A baby laying on back with hands on head receiving a cranial osteopathic treatment. What Is osteopathic Medicine?

The Complete Guide to Osteopathic Medicine: Everything You Need To Know!

What is Osteopathic Medicine? Do you want to learn more about this holistic approach to healthcare that takes into account the body, mind, and spirit? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Have you ever heard of osteopathic medicine?! If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Despite being around for over 100 years, many people are still unfamiliar with this branch of healthcare.

an osteopathic physician man stretching a womans neck with hand on head and shoulders

Osteopathic medicine focuses on the relationship between the body’s and the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease. Osteopathic physicians, or DOs, receive unique medical training that emphasizes preventive care and the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to diagnose and treat.

We are going to explore the principles of osteopathic medicine, the benefits of osteopathic manipulative treatment, and how it differs from traditional allopathic medicine (Or medical care provided by M.D. Physicians). We’ll also touch on the musculoskeletal system’s critical role in maintaining your health and preventing disease!!

If you’re interested in learning more about an integrative and holistic approach to healthcare…sit back, relax, and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of osteopathic medicine!

So, What is Osteopathic Medicine?!

Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the body’s interconnectedness and focuses on the bodies amazing ability to heal itself. Osteopathic medicine is a bit different depending on the country you are in. In the United States people who practice osteopathic medicine are Osteopathic physicians (DOs), where as many other countries osteopaths are not fully licensed physicians. In this article we will be discussing osteopathic medicine from vantage point of being an Osteopathic Physician in the united states. D.O.s receive very similar medical training to allopathic physicians (MDs) but with additional coursework in osteopathic principles and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

Historical Background

Osteopathic medicine was founded in the late 1800s by a physician named Andrew Taylor Still. Still believed that the body had the ability to heal itself and that physicians should focus on treating the whole person, not just their symptoms. He developed a new approach to healthcare that incorporated manual therapies to help restore the body’s natural balance and promote healing.

Connection to Native American Healing

Recently, there has been connections drawn to A.T. Stills relationship with the Shawnee native american people. It has been postulated that he may have learned some of this hands on treatment from the native community. We would like to have awareness of where the roots of this healing tradition may have ultimately come from.

Prevalence of Osteopathic Medicine

Over the years, osteopathic medicine has grown and evolved, with DOs playing an increasingly important role in the healthcare industry. Today, there are over 178,000 DOs practicing in the United States and around the world. Osteopathic physicians practice in all areas and specialties of medicine.

What is the difference between osteopathic medicine and regular medicine?

Most people define allopathic medicine as “regular medicine.” This is medicine that is performed primarily by M.D.s or Medical doctors. Many D.O.s practice in the exact same way as M.D.s. Infact, regular medicine is performed by osteopathic physicians as well.

Differences between Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine

You may be wondering what the difference is between osteopathic medicine and allopathic medicine. While both fields share immense similarities, there are also several key differences to note.

Educational Requirements for Osteopathic Physicians

One of the main differences between the two fields is the educational requirements for physicians. To become an allopathic physician, you must attend a traditional medical school. To become an osteopathic physician, you must attend an osteopathic medical school. The training is very similar in basic medical education, however, in addition to the traditional medical curriculum, DOs also receive training in osteopathic principles and manipulative medicine.

Principles of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic medicine is based on four core principles: the body is a unit; the body is capable of self-regulation and self-healing; structure and function are interrelated; and rational treatment is based on these principles.

Body As A Whole

The body is viewed as a whole, with all of its organ systems and structures working together to maintain health. Osteopathic physicians believe that the body has the ability to heal itself, and works to support this natural healing process. They also recognize that the structure of the body (muscles, bones, and connective tissue) plays a significant role in overall health. Imbalances in the structure of the body can lead to a variety of health problems.

Osteopathic medicine emphasizes preventive care, with DOs focusing on promoting health and preventing disease before it occurs. Many DOs go into primary care because of this philosophy. They also take a patient-centered approach to healthcare, taking into account the individual’s unique circumstances when developing a treatment plan.

Treatment Approaches

Another significant difference between osteopathic and allopathic medicine is the approach to treatment. Allopathic medicine tends to focus on treating the symptoms of a disease or condition, often with medication or surgery. In contrast, osteopathic medicine takes a more holistic approach, treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms.

Osteopathic physicians try to take into account the mind, body and spirit interconnection. The mind can be crucial for improving disease and suffering. If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness and pain check out the post here.

Osteopathic physicians may use a variety of treatment approaches, including medication, surgery, and physical therapy. However, they also use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to help diagnose and treat a variety of conditions.

So, what is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) or Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM)?

This is a hands-on approach that’s used to diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of conditions.

OMT involves various techniques such as soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, and muscle energy, all of which are used to improve the body’s overall function and promote healing.

One of the great things about OMT is that it can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including headaches, back pain, and even digestive issues. It’s also been shown to be effective in improving circulation, reducing stress, and increasing range of motion.

If you’re looking for a non-invasive, drug-free approach to the body, OMT might be a great option for you.

OMT tends to look different depending on the practitioner. Some utilize direct techniques for mobilizing tissues, where others are extremely gentle. You may need to find the right provider for your unique body.

A baby laying on back with hands on head receiving a cranial osteopathic treatment. What Is osteopathic Medicine?

What are the different modalities in OMT?

There are a number of different techniques that are used in osteopathic manipulative treatment.

Some of the most common types are:

  • Myofascial Release
  • Strain Counterstrain
  • Balanced Ligamentous Tension
  • Functional Positional Release
  • Soft Tissue
  • Cranial in the Osteopathic Field
  • Muscle Energy
  • High Velocity Low Amplitude
  • Biodynamics

This list demonstrates the wide array of how osteopathic physicians will use hands on healing techniques to treat the body. Some of these techniques are extremely gentle and even have minimal contact on the body. While others can use some force that is actively put into the body.

Does OMT hurt?

In general, OMT does not hurt. Most techniques and practitioners use very gentle mobilization of the body tissues. However, there are techniques that can work directly on fascial mobilization that can feel tender. This should always be discussed before hand if this is felt the need to be treated.

High velocity, low amplitude treatment (or the popping and cracking many people are used to at the chiropractor) tend to look a bit different when performed by most osteopathic physicians. The have targeted techniques and many use this technique sparingly.

What is the difference between Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)?

OMM stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. OMT stands for Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. There is no difference between the two terms. They can be used interchangeably. OMT is generally not thought of as Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy as osteopathic physicians are not therapists and as physicians provide treatment and not therapy.

Who is osteopathic medicine for?

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is for any one. All ages and stages are treated by osteopathic physicians. It has been found to have good efficacy in treating newborn babies and also is utilized in hospice care to ease suffering.

What does osteopathic medicine treat?

OMM is used to decrease musculoskeletal pain primarily. However, it can also be used to improve the function of the body. This can be for many different aspects of improving bodily function. A few examples include: Mobilization of the rib cage and diaphragm to improve breathing, Opening up lymphatic drainage, and Improving blood supply and circulation.

Common conditions that are treated with OMM include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Upper Back Pain
  • Sciatica/Piriformis Syndrome
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)
  • Carpal Tunnel
  • TMJ Disorder

Non-pain related complaints that might be improved with OMM:

  • Ear Infections
  • COPD/Asthma
  • Post-Operative Bowel Function
  • Constipation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Lymphedema
  • Upper Respiratory Infections
  • Recurrent bladder infections
  • Urinary Incontinence

How do I find an osteopathic physician that performs OMT?

There are a number of different directories that have tried to compile practitioners. These are by no means a complete list though of physicians that practice OMT. Word of mouth always is a good way to find someone, so make sure you ask your friends if they know of any one.

Outside of the United States:

When you are finding an osteopathic physician make sure you ask…

  1. Do you practice OMT? How much of your practice is OMT?
  2. What style of osteopathy do you perform?
  3. What is your specialty?

These questions will give you a good insight into who these physicians are and what your experience will be with physical manipulation. As stated above OMT can look very different depending on the provider, so make sure to ask to find the right person for you!

Newsletter signup

Sign up to receive updates on the most recent posts, freebies and discounts on reducing pain courses!

Please wait...

Thank you for signing up!

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *