About Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic physicians are fully licensed physicians who have Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degrees. D.O.'s have completed four years of undergraduate education, four years of osteopathic medical school, and three to seven years of post-graduate training in their selected area of medical specialization.
They are called Osteopathic Physicians because they put special emphasis on the role of the musculoskeletal system in the healthy functioning of the human body.
D.O’s and M.D.’s are both fully qualified to treat illnesses and injuries but only D.O.’s are uniquely qualified to practice osteopathic medicine.
Osteopathic medicine offers you a different approach to health care — and the difference can be important! The difference lies in the osteopathic physician’s views regarding health (and disease).
To the osteopath, the human body is recognized as a single organism, a “whole person”, made up of many inter-related parts that depend on each other to function properly. The musculoskeletal system, including muscles, bones, joints, etc., is emphasized as both a cause and a reflection of disease, illness and injury.
Improper functioning of the musculoskeletal system (especially the spine) can lead to other health problems — and other health problems can affect the way the muscles, bones and joints function. This insight gives D.O.’s extra “tools” in diagnosing and treating health problems.
Osteopathic medicine has been practiced for more than 100 years. It was first described as a unique concept in health care by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. It’s roots can be traced back to Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.), recognized as the father of modern medicine.
More information about osteopathy can be obtained from the American Osteopathic Association.
The History of Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic Medicine is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Dr. Still was dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th century medicine. He realized that many of the medications of his day were useless or even harmful. Dr. Still was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health so that he could better understand the process of disease.
In response, Dr. Still created the osteopathic philosophy of medicine based on ideas dating back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. Osteopathic philosophy focuses on the unity of the body. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body’s inherent ability to heal itself and stressed preventative medicine, eating properly and keeping fit.
Dr. Still pioneered the concept of “wellness” over 125 years ago. In today’s terms, personal health risks -- such as smoking, high blood pressure, poor diet, stress, and other lifestyle factors – are evaluated for each individual. In coordination with appropriate medical treatment, the osteopathic physician acts as a teacher to help patients take more responsibility for their own well-being and change unhealthy patterns.
Today one in four of every medical students in the U.S. is an osteopathic medical student. There are over 50 campuses of osteopathic medicine in the country and growing.
Approximately 64% of all osteopathic physicians practice in primary care areas such as pediatrics, family practice, obstetrics/gynecology and internal medicine.
Many D.O.’s fill a critical need for doctors by practicing in rural and medically under-served areas.