What is osteopathic medicine?

July 10, 2013
Kristen Romesburg, D.O.

In the United States, complete practicing physicians must obtain one of two degrees, MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). MDs and DOs go through the same rigorous training: four years of college, four years of medical school and then internship, residency and sometimes fellowship before taking boards and becoming a board certified physician. Both DOs and MDs can specialize in anything from family practice to brain surgery, and both practice at fully accredited/licensed facilities.

Osteopathic Medicine was started by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, in 1892 in America. A.T. Still was born in 1828 in Virginia. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a physician, an MD. He became frustrated with medicine after the death of his sons from a meningitis outbreak. He started his own medical school in Kirksville, Mo., with a focus on prevention of disease and a new approach to MD medicine based on four tenets. As a physician, we need to remember we are treating people, not just a physical finding, and treatments should focus on helping the body’s natural healing abilities. n modern DO medicine these treatments may include OMT (see below), medication, surgery, dietary changes, exercise programs, or counseling. Homeopathic remedies (the use of plant/mineral based elixirs) are not taught in osteopathic medical school.

Some DO’s practice OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment): “hands-on” or manual therapy. OMT is an additional class that is part of the curriculum in medical school. Chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists all use manual therapy as well. Some techniques feel like massage while others feel like a stretching motion and some techniques feel like the “crack” of a joint.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine use these techniques to treat many kinds of problems including but not limited to:

• Back pain

• Neck pain

• Hip pain

• Muscle strain

• Headaches

• Sinus problems

• Ear aches

• Breathing problems

Osteopathic manipulation is covered by most insurance plans with a co-pay.

For more information on osteopathic medicine, visit www.osteopathic.org or www.acofp.org/.

About the author: Kristen Romesburg, D.O., practices medicine with Washington Health System – Primary Care Lakeside, Waterdam Plaza, McMurray. Her office number is 724-969-1001.



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