What is Osteopathic Medicine? A Holistic Approach That May Be Just What You Need

What is Osteopathic Medicine? A Holistic Approach That May Be Just What You NeedPracticed all over the world, osteopathic medicine is a whole-body approach to medical care that is based on three beliefs:

  1. The body is capable of self-healing.
  2. Patients should be treated holistically.
  3. The structure and function of the body are interrelated.[1]

Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs), who are also called osteopaths, are fully licensed physicians who can prescribe medication, perform surgery, and practice medicine, just like MDs. However, osteopathic medicine is a more patient-centered approach that focuses on assessing patients and their overall health, not just treating specific symptoms. 

Osteopathic manipulative technique

Doctors of osteopathy are also trained to use osteopathic manipulative technique (OMT), a hands-on therapy that can help conditions such as low-back pain[2,3], neck pain, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions.[4] One study found that OMT provided a 30% overall reduction in pain for a group of 318 patients compared with various control treatments.[5]

One of the main tenets of osteopathic medicine is that structure influences function. Therefore, if something in the structure of your body is out of place, it is likely to influence the function of various parts of your body, leading to the presentation of symptoms. Osteopathic doctors use more than 100 different OMT techniques to address those structural problems,[2] free joint motion, relax muscle fibers, and promote blood flow.[4] Some of these techniques are similar to those provided by massage therapists, physical therapists, or chiropractors, while others are unique to osteopathic medicine.

Along with treating musculoskeletal conditions, the hands-on manipulation of OMT can also be beneficial for a variety of conditions such as fibromyalgia, asthma, and headaches. Even for those without specific concerns, OMT is used to promote overall health and well-being.

Is a DO right for you?

Not only do DOs offer the benefits of OMT, but they make great primary care physicians as well. Patients have reported a higher satisfaction rate when visiting a DO compared with conventional allopathic doctors. Osteopathic physicians are more likely to discuss preventative measures, emotional states, and family and social activities as they relate to patient health.[6]

If you are looking for a doctor who will treat not just your symptoms, but you as a whole, give osteopathic medicine a try. Use our directory to find a DO near you.

Give us your feedback

What is your experience with doctors of osteopathy? Have you ever tried OMT? Let us know if you have benefitted from osteopathic medicine and share your story in the comments section below.

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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