Osteopathic Medicine was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. in 1874. Controversial at first, this system opposed most of the established medical practices of the 1800’s and early 1900’s, which included treatments such as bloodletting and the use of purgatives, mercury, and alcohol-based compounds by physicians who were poorly or incompletely trained.
The son of a Methodist minister, Still attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City, Kansas. He also served as a state legislator and enlisted in the Ninth Kansas Cavalry during the Civil War. After the war, Still provided health care to settlers and Native Americans. He became increasingly dissatisfied with the established medical practices of the day while he was treating the epidemics of the time period, including cholera, pneumonia, smallpox, meningitis, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.
Still avoided the liberal use of drugs in his search for alternative therapies, believing that his role as a physician was to facilitate the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. He developed osteopathic manipulative treatment and a philosophy of medicine that was based on his experiences. His intent was not to create a separate profession; rather, his goal was to improve the system of medicine. Although his ideas were initially rejected by the medical community, D.O.s received full practice rights in all 50 states by 1973. Presently, there are over 60,000 D.O.s in the United States, with more joining the profession each year.
A.T. Still is credited as being the first to identify the human immune system and developing a means of natural stimulation for it. He was also the first to welcome women and minorities into medical school. Still predicted that the United States would have major drug addiction problems if physicians continued to over-prescribe addictive drugs. Most importantly, Still believed that disease in one body part affects the entire body and that physicians should study disease prevention as well as cure. His contributions to modern medicine are invaluable and remain the basis for osteopathic medicine.
What is a D.O.?
D.O.s, or osteopathic physicians, are fully licensed in all 50 states to practice medicine, including performing surgery and prescribing medication. Like an M.D. or allopathic physician, a D.O. must complete four years of basic medical education before choosing a specialty. D.O.s and M.D.s are required to pass similar licensing examinations, and both are able to practice medicine in fully licensed and accredited health care facilities. There are some differences between D.O.s and M.D.s. In addition to a basic medical education, a D.O. receives extra training in osteopathic manipulative therapy. Osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT, is a hands-on treatment that emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and the body’s power of self-healing. OMT is unique to the training of a D.O. and encourages a “whole person” approach to medicine.
What is Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment?
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, or OMT, is a hands-on approach to healthcare. It utilizes the musculoskeletal system of the body to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. People of all ages have benefited from OMT and common uses include the treatment of low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, and headaches.
How does Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine differ from chiropractic treatment and massage therapy?
Health care providers who utilize manual medicine and manual therapy (MM/MT) in their work include individuals who hold the D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), M.D. (Medical Doctor), D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic), P.T. (Physical Therapist) degrees as well as individuals with training in body work and massage. Those who hold the D.O. and M.D. degree have an “unlimited scope of medical practice” license, which is not the case with chiropractors, physical therapists or massage therapists who hold licenses with a significantly more limited scope of practice. In the case of a D.O. provider, the Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine would include the manual treatment which may be integrated with the prescription of medication and the provision of surgery; this integration is unavailable to the practice of chiropractic and physical therapy.