About Osteopathic Medicine

You are more than just the sum of your body parts. That's why doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) practice a "whole person" approach to medicine. Instead of just treating specific symptoms, osteopathic physicians concentrate on treating you as a whole for truly patient-centered care.

Osteopathic physicians understand how all the body's systems are interconnected and how each one affects the others. They focus special attention on the musculoskeletal system, which reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems. This system of bones and muscles makes up about two-thirds of the body's mass, and a routine part of the osteopathic patient examination is a careful evaluation of these important structures.

DOs know that the body's structure plays a critical role in its ability to function. They can use their eyes and hands to identify structural problems and to support the body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing. Osteopathic physicians also use their ears to listen to you and your health concerns. Doctors of osteopathic medicine help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but help prevent it, too. Millions of Americans prefer this concerned and compassionate care and have made DOs their doctors for life.

What’s unique about osteopathic medicine?
DOs embrace a holistic approach to health care – encouraging healthy lifestyles that integrate body, mind and spirit. They consider all aspects of their patients’ lives – such as family, work, recreation, values, diet, exercise, stress and life events – to provide truly patient-centered care. They emphasize prevention, the relationship between the structure and function of the body, and stimulating the body’s self-healing properties.

Most distinctively, however, DOs are trained in osteopathic manual medicine (OMM), which they can use to help diagnose and treat illness.

What is Osteopathic Manual Medicine?
Many DOs practice osteopathic manual medicine (OMM), sometimes called osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), a hands-on diagnostic and therapeutic technique to correct and prevent disease and injury. OMM is a non-invasive therapy that can be used with or sometimes in place of medication or surgery.

Is osteopathic medicine a new form of medicine?
No, the principles and practices of osteopathic medicine were developed by Andrew Taylor Still, a Civil War physician, more than 130 years ago, and his philosophy is now widely accepted and used by many different health care fields today.

How many osteopathic physicians are there in Michigan? In the U.S.?
Michigan has one of the strongest presences of osteopathic medicine in the country, with approximately 7,000 osteopathic physicians in the state. Nationally, there are over 100,000 DOs. Osteopathic medicine is the fastest-growing health care professions in the country. Over the past 30 years, the number of osteopathic physicians practicing in the U.S. has more than tripled.

Where do osteopathic physicians receive their training?
Currently, there are 34 osteopathic medical schools in 51 locations throughout the United States. Michigan’s only osteopathic medical school is the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Established in 1969, it has educated nearly 6,000 DOs and is consistently ranked among the top ten for primary care education among all medical schools, either M.D. or DO, in the nation.

The osteopathic curriculum involves four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school and two-to-six years of residency training. Many DOs then choose to take a residency program in a specialty area, such as internal medicine, surgery, family practice, pediatrics, radiology or pathology.

For more information on DOs, visit the American Osteopathic Association website.
Link: AOA About DOs