What is Osteopathic Medicine?
Osteopathic medicine is a system of medicine that focuses on treating the whole person, enhancing the body’s health and ability to heal, not just addressing specific symptoms or diseases. In the United States, DOs and MDs can train in any specialty in medicine. Osteopathic schools teach a philosophy of medicine that the body has an innate ability directed towards healing. Part of our schooling involves learning osteopathic manipulative treatment aimed at supporting the body’s healing ability. Some osteopathic physicians receive extra training in manipulative medicine.
Traditional osteopathic manipulative medicine can help the body heal during illness, but you don’t have to be sick to benefit from osteopathic manipulative treatment, as it optimizes health, well being, development, and functioning.
At the core of our training is a philosophy that the body is a unit of function and we are each composed of spirit, mind, and body. As well, the structure of the body is involved with its function. Addressing this interrelationship is vital. A healthy body helps the mind to heal, and a healthy body and attitude help mind to function best. The body has a tremendous capacity to heal, self regulate, and maintain health. The structure of our body and how our body functions are interrelated. Therefore, osteopathic medical treatment and osteopathic manipulative treatment is based on the understanding of the oneness of the body and its ability to heal and self regulate. The interrelationship of the structure of our body and how it functions is key.
The goal is to find the root cause of the body’s dysfunction. This is accomplished by a detailed history, physical exam, and structural exam. We often think of manipulative treatment for a sore back or stiff neck, but the body’s structure is always involved in illness. For instance, a child with asthma will have ribs that are tight and impinge on the nerves that aide breathing, their tail bone may be jammed from a hard fall, and a child with an ear infection has a mechanical obstruction to the drainage of the middle ear. Birth trauma, falls, accidents, and concussions can all affect the ability of our body to function optimally. Even in the case of the same diagnosis, the treatment depends on the physical findings.