What You Need to Know About Osteopathic Medicine

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are practitioners in the medical field whose practice is based on the philosophy that all of the human body’s systems are connected to each other. Therefore, osteopathic medicine believes that a single part of the body affects everything surrounding it.

The concept taught to these medical professionals is that treatment shouldn’t only be focused on a certain illness affecting certain parts of the body. Instead, they’re trained to treat the whole human body and its interconnected systems.

Currently, the United States has more than 145,000 physicians specializing in osteopathy, combined with osteopathic medical students attending osteopathic schools of medicine.

When did osteopathic medicine originate?

Osteopathy as a distinct field in medicine traces its roots back to more than a hundred years. The field considers Andrew Taylor Still the founder. Still taught osteopathic medicine as a way of addressing ailments with the human body’s structure to treat the body as a whole.

Still practiced osteopathic medicine during the Civil War and believed that problems in the spine have the ability to deliver nerve signals to the organs in our body, which he believed is the cause of us feeling sick.

During his practice, Still developed a series of treatments called osteopathic manipulation. Osteopathic manipulation’s goal is to restore the nerves back to optimal health in order for them to promote good circulation to help the body heal itself.

What is osteopathic manipulative medicine?

Osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) was birthed by Still’s findings during his Civil War practice. Today, DOs use this comprehensive approach to medical care. OMM goes by the fundamental beliefs of osteopathy. It is used along with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for diagnosis and subsequent treatment of patients.

In medical school, potential DOs receive additional education and training in manipulating the body’s musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is our body’s interrelated system of bones, muscles, and nerves, making up over 60 percent of our body’s mass.

The additional training in OMM contains an assessment of the impact of problems with the neuromusculoskeletal systems on a person’s overall health and on their existing diseases. Once diagnosed, medical interventions involve processes of OMT.

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What are some facts about DOs?

Knowing more about a certain field in medicine can help you when it comes to looking for the care you need, especially when the need is immediate. To guide you, here are some facts about osteopathic medicine and DOs:

1. They practice in primary care settings

Over half of currently practicing DOs can be found helping patients in primary care settings. They specialize in internal medicine, pediatrics, family medicine, and adolescent medicine, along with OMM.

2. They work in underserved areas

Some communities aren’t lucky enough to be filled with physicians of many specializations that can help them effectively have their medical concerns addressed, but DOs make up a majority of physicians practicing in rural and underserved areas.

3. Osteopathic medicine is a growing field

Since the 1990s, the number of osteopathic physicians practicing their profession in the U.S. has increased four times the number that year.

4. DOs are getting younger

The population of DOs is getting younger. It was found that in 2019, more than half of osteopathic physicians currently practicing are under the age of 45 years old. This can also be attributed to more students in medical school specializing in the study of osteopathic medicine increasing over the years.

5. More women are becoming DOs

There is a continuous rise in the number of women practicing osteopathic medicine as a medical specialization. In the year 2019, 42 percent of practicing DOs are women. Making a jump of 10 percent compared to numbers from 1999.

How can DOs help you with your medical concerns?

Osteopathic medicine keeps a strong focus on the whole person approach when it comes to treatment and diagnosis. This means that they are trained to carefully listen and cooperate with their patients in order to properly address their medical concerns.

Physicians specializing in osteopathic medicine are focused on preventing illnesses. They dig deeper into a person’s environment, lifestyle, and other factors that can affect their health and overall well-being. The whole-person approach of osteopathic medicine serves DOs’ goal to help individuals maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit—they don’t just focus on the absence of ailments, they also work to stop them from occurring.

In helping patients, DOs combine their learned skills and knowledge with the latest technological advancements in technology in order to help patients to the best of their abilities. With the help of new innovations in medicine, DOs are able to provide top-quality care for their patients.

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