Osteopathic medicine in the United States

Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medicine practiced in the United States. Osteopathic physicians use all of the knowledge, skills, tools, and technology available in modern medicine, with the added benefits of a holistic philosophy and a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) emphasize helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.

DOs work in partnership with their patients. They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each individual, and they work to erase barriers to good health. DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories of the United States, as well as in more than 65 countries abroad.1 They practice in all types of environments, including the military, and in all specialties, from family medicine and obstetrics to surgery and cardiology.

From their first day of medical school, DOs are trained to look at the whole person, which means they see each person as more than just a collection of body parts that may become injured or diseased. DOs are taught that the whole person is greater than the sum of his or her parts, and that patients should be treated as partners in the health care process. They are trained to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, and they are given the opportunity to practice these skills in the classroom and a variety of other settings.

Because of their whole-person approach to medicine, 56 percent of all DOs choose to practice in the primary care disciplines of family practice, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. The remaining 44 percent go on to specialize in any number of practice areas.2

There are more than 100,000 DOs in the United States.2 DOs boast a strong history of serving rural and underserved areas, often providing their distinctive brand of compassionate, patient-centered care to some of the most economically disadvantaged members of our society.

In addition to studying all of the typical subjects you would expect student physicians to master, osteopathic medical students complete approximately 200 hours of training in OMM. This system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment helps alleviate pain, restore motion, and support the body’s natural structure to help it function more efficiently.

One key concept osteopathic medical students learn is that structure influences function. Thus, if there is a problem in one part of the body’s structure, function in that area and in other areas may be affected. For example, restriction of motion in the lower ankle can restrict motion in the knee, hip, and lumbar spine, causing symptoms throughout. By using OMM techniques, DOs can help restore motion to these areas and eliminate pain.

Another integral tenet of osteopathic medicine is that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Many of osteopathic medicine’s manipulative techniques are aimed at reducing or eliminating impediments to proper structure and function so that this self-healing mechanism can assume its role in restoring a patient’s health.

In addition to their strong history of providing high-quality patient care, DOs conduct clinical and basic science research to help advance the frontiers of medicine and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the osteopathic approach to patient care. Studies have focused on demonstrating the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) as it applies to many facets of patient care.

1 Source: American Osteopathic Association; International Practice Rights Map; http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/development/international-osteopathic-medicine/ Pages/international-practice-rights-map.aspx 
2 Source: American Osteopathic Association; 2015 Osteopathic Medical Profession Report; http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/about/aoa-annual-statistics/Pages/default.aspx

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Mitglied der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Akademie für Osteopathie
Mitglied der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Manuelle Medizin

Aus rechtlichen Gründen sei darauf hingewiesen, dass in der Nennung beispielhaft aufgeführter Anwendungsgebiete selbstverständlich kein Heilversprechen aufgeführter Krankheitszustände liegen kann. Grundsätzlich ist festzustellen, dass einigermaßen zuverlässige Aussagen/Studien zur Wirksamkeit und Effektivität osteopathischer Behandlungen nur bei wenigen Erkrankungsbildern vorliegen: im Wesentlichen bei chronischen Schmerzsyndromen der Wirbelsäule, bei muskulo-skelettalen Störungen und im viszeralen Bereich. [Deutsches Ärzteblatt 2009; 106 (46)]

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