If you're like most people, you've been going to a doctor ever since you were born, and perhaps were not aware whether you were seeing a D.O. (Osteopathic Physician) or an M.D. (Allopathic Physician). You may not even be aware that there are these two types of complete physicians in the United States.
The fact is, both D.O.s and M.D.s are complete physicians. They are both licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medication in all 50 states. Is there any difference between these two kinds of doctors? Yes, and No.
D.O.s comprise a separate, yet equal branch of American medical care. Together, D.O.s and M.D.s enhance the state of care available in America. However, it's the ways that D.O.s and M.D.s are different that can bring an extra dimension to your family's health care.
Osteopathic medicine is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. Dr. Still was dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th Century medicine. He believed that many of the medications of his day were useless or even harmful. Dr. Still was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health so that he could better understand the process of disease.
In response, Dr. Still founded a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body's ability to heal itself and stressed preventative medicine, eating properly and keeping fit.
Dr. Still pioneered the concept of "wellness" over 100 years ago. In today's terms, personal health risks - such as smoking, high blood pressure, excessive cholesterol levels, stress and other lifestyle factors - are elevated for each individual. In coordination with appropriate medical treatment, the osteopathic physician acts as a teacher to help patients take more responsibility for their own well-being and change unhealthy patterns.
Sports medicine is also a natural outgrowth of osteopathic practice, because of its focus on the musculoskeletal system, osteopathic manipulative treatment, diet, exercise and fitness. Many professional sports team physicians, Olympic physicians and personal sports medicine physicians are D.O.s.
Just as Dr. Still pioneered osteopathic medicine on the Missouri frontier in 1874, today osteopathic physicians serve as modern day medical pioneers. They continue the tradition of bringing health care to areas of greatest need:
Today, osteopathic physicians continue to be on the cutting edge of modern medicine. D.O.s are able to combine today's awesome medical technology with the tools of their ears, to listen caringly to their patients; their eyes, to see their patients as whole persons; and their hands, to diagnose and treat injury and illness.