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Osteopath (DO)

Overview

A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a physician licensed to practice medicine, perform surgery and prescribe medication. Like allopathic physicians (or MDs), osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school and can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine. However, osteopathic physicians receive an additional 300 to 500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

Osteopathic medicine is dedicated to treating and healing the patient as a whole, rather than focusing on one system or body part. An osteopathic physician will often use a treatment method called osteopathic manipulative treatment (also called OMT or manipulation) — a hands-on approach to make sure that the body is moving freely. This free motion ensures that all of your body's natural healing systems are able to work unhindered.

Osteopathic physicians hold to the principle that a patient's history of illness and physical trauma are written into the body's structure. The osteopathic physician's highly developed sense of touch allows the physician to feel (palpate) the patient's "living anatomy" (the flow of fluids, motion and texture of tissues and structural makeup).

Like MDs, osteopathic physicians are licensed at the state level. Osteopathic physicians who wish to specialize may become "board certified" (in much the same manner as MDs) by completing a two- to six-year residency within the specialty area and passing the board certification exams.

Osteopathic doctors practice in all specialties of medicine, ranging from emergency medicine and cardiovascular surgery to psychiatry and geriatrics. A majority use many of the medical and surgical treatments that are used by other medical doctors.

Source: MedlinePlus

Note: This definition was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

Recommended Reading

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, American Osteopathic Association
This site includes FAQs about osteopathic medicine, information about a DO's education and training, and much more.

Colorado Society of Osteopathic Medicine
This site is for osteopathic professionals in Colorado.

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