What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic Medicine

The practice of osteopathic medicine is guided by a holistic philosophy that includes osteopathic manipulative techniques to help achieve balance of the mind, body and spirit.  Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO (1828-1917), founded the American School of Osteopathy, in 1892, having discovered a new form of medical care that he named osteopathy.  Today, osteopathy has been broadened to osteopathic medicine in the United States, distinguishing it as one of two systems of medical care whereby osteopathic physicians, or DO’s, receive complete medical training and have an unlimited scope of practice.  Much of the training for osteopathic physicians occurs in community based hospitals and clinics. This creates the opportunity for DO’s to be well equipped for careers in any specialty, but particularly primary care.  With a guiding philosophy, medical knowledge, and the ability to perform manipulative techniques, osteopathic physicians are equipped to assist their patients in their journey towards optimal health.

Osteopathic Philosophy

The philosophy of osteopathy is expansive and holistic, focused on the patient, with specific attention to the cause of a disease and use of manipulative techniques as a possible treatment. 

The following tenets are guides for providing osteopathic patient care:1

  • A person is the product of dynamic interaction between body, mind, and spirit.
  • An inherent property of this dynamic interaction is the capacity of the individual for the maintenance of health and recovery from disease.
  • Many forces, both intrinsic and extrinsic to the person, can challenge this inherent capacity and contribute to the onset of illness.
  • The musculoskeletal system significantly influences the individual’s ability to restore this inherent capacity and therefore to resist disease processes.
    1Rogers, Felix J. "Advancing a traditional view of osteopathic medicine through clinical practice." Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 105.5 (2005): 255.

Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques

Osteopathic manipulative techniques are a set of manual procedures performed on the body when muscles, joints, fascia or organs are strained or misaligned.  Strain and misalignments can occur from minor injuries or internal diseases.  In any case, when strain and misalignment is present, the body cannot function optimally, resulting in loss of motion, pain, and decreased blood and fluid circulation.  Osteopathic manipulative treatment helps remove these stains and restore alignment, thereby improving overall function. There are over twenty technique styles, ranging from thrust (also known as “popping”) to more gentle indirect ones.  Some more common techniques that were first described by D.O.s include: muscle energy, Jones strain-counterstrain, myofascial release, fascial distortion, and cranial osteopathy.


For more information, and to find your D.O., click on this link: http://doctorsthatdo.org/