What Is Osteopathic Medicine, and How Does It Apply to Us?

Osteopathic medicine has taken on a gradual but definite greater popularity since the 1980s. At that time there were only 14 schools in the United States offering osteopathic medicine curriculum and less than 5,000 students. Now it has increased to 30 schools nationwide with 40 locations, and more than 23,000 students are at the schools. It is obviously a trend that’s on the rise, but not too many people really know and understand what osteopathic medicine is.The major difference between what we might term regular doctors and osteopathic doctors, or D.O., is that the latter often provide manual medicine therapies. This would include massage therapy and spinal manipulation as a part of the treatment. These doctors are fully trained and licensed, and have graduated from a U.S. osteopathic medical school. A doctor of medicine, or M.D., has graduated from a conventional medical school. Each upon graduation must complete residency training in their chosen specialties, and they are required to pass the same licensing examination.The basic principles of osteopathic medicine revolve around the unity of the body’s anatomy and physiology, or function of the body. It holds that the body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms, meaning that it can repair itself, and the body’s structure and function have a direct interrelationship. The criticism that it draws is similar to any alternative medicine, and that is that it does not always adhere to evidence-based medicine. It seems to have its greatest backing in its treatment of persistent lower back pain.Many Americans are still completely unaware that doctors of osteopathic medicine are licensed to practice medicine, and well over half were unaware that they can perform surgery, which they can. This despite the fact that it has been around for well over 100 years, and was based on the idea that health and healing can be accomplished with improved circulation through manipulation of the neck and spine.So what would be the advantages for a person to go to one of these doctors? First of all in order for a person to be able to put their full trust to a doctor who practices osteopathic medicine, it would help to be able to think a little bit “outside the box” as far as health care. They tend not to think of treating health issues with medications, but with therapies that many people might find hard to understand.Essentially they think of medicine in terms of the whole person. This involves helping patients develop lifestyles and attitudes that go farther than addressing their current ailments. They are much more into preventive medicine as opposed to many MDs. Because of their in-depth training in the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles bones and nerves, they will use more of a hands-on approach to manipulating the body. This also is quite different from regular MDs who rarely touch the patient.By treating the body as a whole they have a better comprehension of how different areas of the body can actually affect one another. This is rather like the acupuncture treatments. It is all still quite new, but for those who are more inclined to preventive medicine instead of reactive medicine, it is something they should look into.