Is osteopathic medicine considered alternative medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is not the same as other alternative treatments.  Osteopathic medicine has a history of 125 years of clinical excellence.  Most consider that osteopathic physicians are as well qualified and thoroughly trained as medical doctors.  In most hospitals they work side by side.  In addition to the spectrum of services delivered by M.D.'s, D.O. physicians also provide manipulative care.  They are included in the alternative medicine section of this document because of their holistic approach to medicine and the publicís perception that they provide alternative types of care in addition to traditional care.

What is osteopathic medicine?

Osteopathic medicine is a complete system of medical care. Central to the philosophy of osteopathic medicine is the importance of treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. Osteopathy emphasizes the interrelationships of structure and function, and the appreciation of the body's ability to heal itself.

Who practices osteopathic medicine?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.ís) practice this distinct field of medicine. Other than M.D.ís, D.O.ís are the only kind of physician in the United States who are fully trained and licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication.

What is a D.O.?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, like physicians and many other professionals, are regulated at 2 different levels. Licensure is a process that takes place at the state level in accordance with specific laws. In addition, certification is also established through a national organization with nationally consistent requirements and professional standards.

What makes D.O.ís Different?

  • D.O.ís can perform surgery, child delivery, treat patients, and prescribe medicines in hospitals and clinic settings.
  •  D.O.ís look at the "total person." Osteopathic physicians focus on preventative care. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they consider the whole body.
  • D.O.ís receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of the nerves, the muscles, and the bones. This training gives D.O.ís a better understanding of how an injury or illness in one part of the body can affect another part of the body; therefore, D.O.ís have a therapeutic and diagnostic advantage.
  • D.O.ís use what is called osteopathic manipulative treatment (O.M.T.). O.M.T. is a technique in which the D.O.ís use their hands to diagnose injury and illness, giving special attention to the joints, bones, muscles, and nerves. Manipulations improve circulation, which in turn, creates a normal nerve and blood supply, enabling the body to heal itself.

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.'s) provide you with all the best that medicine has to offer. They can specialize in any recognized area of medicine, from pediatrics to neurosurgery. However, their knowledge and use of the latest medical technology is complemented by their application of a hands-on treatment tool known as osteopathic manipulative treatment, or O.M.T.

Using OMT, D.O.'s bring an added dimension to healthcare, in the form of a non-invasive treatment. D.O.'s use OMT to diagnose, treat and even prevent illness or injury. When appropriate it can be used in conjunction with, or in place of, medication or surgery.

D.O.ís are widely recognized for their incorporation of manipulative medicine into the spectrum of care; O.M.T., however, is just one element of the unique philosophy of osteopathic medicine.

D.O.ís recognize that the body is inherently capable of healing itself, though it must constantly fight physical, emotional, chemical and nutritional ďstressorsĒ to maintain a state of wellness. D.O.ís believe in educating you about good health and avoidance of disease. However, D.O.ís recognize that medication, surgery, and often OMT are necessary elements of treatment.

Using a variety of OMT techniques, your D.O. will apply manual forces to your body's affected areas to treat structural abnormalities, and will then apply specific corrective forces to relieve joint restrictions and misalignments. Based upon the complexity or severity of your problem, you may require more than one treatment.

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Last modified: 08/06/08