Osteopathic medicine emphasizes overall health and the relation among the
body's nerves, muscles, bones, and organs. Osteopathic physicians (also called doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs) base
diagnosis and treatment on the idea that the body's systems are interconnected.
Instead of treating specific symptoms or illnesses, DOs regard and treat the
body as an integrated whole. Osteopathic medicine focuses on disease prevention
and health maintenance.
Osteopathic physicians must complete basic medical
education from an accredited college of osteopathic medicine. Accreditation is
recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Postsecondary
Education. Like medical doctors (MDs), DOs must complete an internship and
residency program after their basic medical education. DOs can prescribe
medicine and do surgery.
Like MDs, DOs must pass a state medical board examination to obtain a license
in order to enter practice. Each state board sets its own requirements and then
issues the license for the osteopathic physician to practice in that state.
What is osteopathic medicine used for?
Osteopathic physicians may serve as primary care
providers. DOs can prescribe medicines, order medical tests such as
X-rays, and do surgery. DOs often provide treatment in
a hospital. More than half of all osteopathic physicians practice in primary care
areas. Examples of primary care areas are children's health (pediatrics), pregnant women's health (obstetrics), women's
health (gynecology), and general adult health (internal medicine).
Some osteopathic physicians use hands-on manipulation of bones and
muscles, or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), in their
training and practice. OMT allows osteopathic physicians to use their hands to help diagnose injury and illness, help pain, and promote
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.