Osteopathic Medicine

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Osteopathic medicine was founded in the late 1800s in Missouri by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, as a rejection of the prevailing system of medicine in the 19th century. He believed physicians of the day were focusing more on disease treatment than the health of the whole person. Still’s techniques relied heavily, but not exclusively, on the manipulation of joints and bones to diagnose and treat illness. He called his practices ‘osteopathy.’ In 1892 Still established the first school of osteopathic medicine in the US, the American School of Osteopathy (now the A.T. Still University – Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine). The professional doctorate degree conferred on the first graduates was Doctor of Osteopathy, DO – today referred to as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. By the middle of the 20th century, the practice of osteopathic medicine had moved closer to traditional, mainstream medicine, and became recognized as a distinct form of medical practice and full medical practice rights were provided to DOs in all 50 states.

Osteopathic Medical Care and Training

Osteopathic medical training recognizes that the body is inherently capable of healing itself, though it must constantly fight physical, emotional, chemical and nutritional stressors to maintain a state of wellness. The training emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.

Osteopathic medicine provides the benefits of conventional medicine, surgery, psychiatry, prescription drugs and all other accepted forms of medical and surgical specialty care. In addition, osteopathic manual medicine offers DOs a hands-on diagnosis and treatment modality known as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), part of the unique, additional training DOs receive. OMT emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and some osteopathic physicians use OMT to manually assess and treat illness or injury. The training curricula for DOs and MDs in the United States are very similar. DOs and MDs attend four years at an accredited medical school followed by at least three years of post-graduate residency training in their selected practice specialty.