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  • Writer's pictureDr. George Cheriyan, DO

What Is an Osteopathic Doctor?

Updated: Jan 8

Many people know what an MD is but have little to no knowledge about what a DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine) or osteopath Dr is, leading them to ask this question.

In this post, we'll examine what an osteopathic doctor is, whether they are trained and licensed, and the tenets of osteopathic medicine. Let's dive in!

Osteopathic Doctor Treating a Patient

What Is an Osteopathic Doctor?

An osteopathic doctor is a physician who treats and prevents illness and improves a person's overall wellness by adopting a whole-body approach rather than focusing on a condition or symptoms.

An Osteopath Dr considers their patients' physical and mental health needs, ensuring they achieve excellent health in body and mind.

They are trained to use hands-on techniques to impact the body's lymphatic, nervous, and circulatory systems, reducing pain, enhancing blood and body fluids circulation, and increasing mobility.

This holistic approach focuses on the body's ability to heal itself and was developed by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874.

Are Osteopath Drs Trained and Licensed?

Only two doctors are recognized in the United States - medical doctors (MDs) and osteopathic doctors (DOs).

Like MDs, osteopathic doctors are fully trained and licensed by all 50 states and specialty boards to diagnose and treat various illnesses and conditions, prescribe medications, and perform surgery.

Osteopathic doctors also have a 4-years undergraduate degree and complete four years of medical school. In addition, an osteopath Dr receives training in specialized osteopathic training and 200 to 500 hours of coursework studying the musculoskeletal system.

Like MDs, osteopath Drs complete 1 to 7 years of a residency program, pass national licensure exams, and receive continuing medical education (CME) to remain certified and licensed.

They practice in various specialties, including primary care, psychiatry, family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, and emergency medicine.

What Is the Difference Between a Do and an MD?

DOs and MDs are similar in a lot of ways. However, osteopathic doctors use manipulative treatment to correct the underlying concerns. They use stretching, massaging, and spine manipulation techniques, and recommend lifestyle changes to treat various conditions and help you avoid surgery.

What Are the Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine?

Now that you understand what an osteopathic doctor is, what is the guiding philosophy of osteopathic medicine? Approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), the tenets of osteopathic medicine were created by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the 19th century and influence osteopathic treatment plans to date. The four tenets of osteopathic medicine are:

  1. The body is a functional unit. The mind, body, and spirit are connected, and each part affects the other.

  2. Structure and function are interdependent. If structure is affected, there'll be a reciprocal effect on function.

  3. The body has the innate ability to heal and regulate itself.

  4. For healing to occur, treatment must be based on an understanding of body unity, self-regulation, and interrelationship of structure and function.

Osteopathic doctors utilize their knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and the body's interconnectedness to offer some of the most comprehensive care available in the US today. Prefer to see an osteopath Dr? Book an appointment today.



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