Osteopathic medicine is a patient-focused approach to health care that takes into account every aspect of the patient, including his or her physical, personal, and spiritual well-being. Developed more than 130 years ago by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, osteopathic medicine brings a unique philosophy to traditional patient care. Understanding that the body is more than just a sum of its parts, osteopathic physicians (DOs) assist the patient’s innate capacity to heal by addressing the interrelationship of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones and organs. Osteopathic physicians are licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.
Although osteopathic medicine is preferred over osteopathy to refer to the complete system of medical care practiced by DOs in the United States, the American Academy of Osteopathy retains the older nomenclature to remain connected to its history and to connect with clinicians around the world who practice osteopathic manipulation.
For any medical condition, osteopathic physicians understand that each individual expresses health and disease differently and that the absence of disease does not imply the presence of health. Therefore, osteopathic physicians are trained to recognize changes in body structure that alter function which may contribute to “dis-ease.” In addition to managing medical conditions with pills or surgery, DOs are trained in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). OMT is the therapeutic application of manual techniques by an osteopathic physician to address the changes in body structure to improve physiologic function.
OMT techniques range from gentle palpation to high-pressure or rapid, forceful manipulation.
People of all ages, from newborns to senior adults, can benefit from osteopathic manipulative treatment. Applying OMT to muscles, joints and other tissues allows the body to achieve a state of health more quickly and easily. OMT can be helpful in a wide range of clinical conditions, from alleviating pain to shortening hospital recovery time, improving childhood asthma and infant colic.
OMT also can help patients with a vast number of other health problems such as:
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Created in collaboration with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), this online learning module shares surprising insights from the frontlines on treating COVID-19 patients with OMM.