Written by Julie Taylor
Osteopathy is similar to chiropractic without chiropractic manipulation (cracking – which is primarily the release of air pockets) and to therapeutic massage but with more emphasis on trigger points and osteopathic manipulation (softer). It emphasizes wholistic, overall health and the relation among the body’s nerves, muscles, bones, and organs. Doctors of osteopathy (DOs) base diagnosis and treatment on the idea that the body’s systems are interconnected and that each affect the wellbeing of the other. 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 doctors must complete 4 years of basic medical education from an accredited college of osteopathic medicine. Accreditation of colleges of osteopathic medicine is officially recognized. Like medical doctors (MDs), DOs must complete an internship and residency program after their basic medical education. Currently, DOs are rare in Canada and have received their training in other countries, such as England, Australia or the United States – and the practice of osteopathy in each country is subtly different.
What is osteopathy used for?
Like medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy may serve as primary care providers. DOs can prescribe medicines, order medical tests such as X-rays and do surgery. DOs often are able to provide treatment in a hospital. More than half of all osteopathic doctors practice in primary care areas, especially in the US. Examples are with children (pediatrics), pregnant women (obstetrics), women’s health (gynecology), or general adult health (internal medicine).
Some osteopathic doctors still use hands-on manipulation of bones and muscles, or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), is still found in their training and practice of some osteopathic physicians. OMT allows osteopathic doctors to use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to promote healing.
Is osteopathy safe?
Osteopathic medicine is a safe, established practice of medicine. Like MDs, DOs must pass a medical board exam administered by a recognized to obtain a license and enter practice. Each province/state/area sets its own requirements and then issues the license for the osteopathic doctor to practice in that area. All areas require licensure for osteopathic doctors.
If you are interested in choosing a DO as your primary care provider, check his or her education, license, and experience. Recommendations from family members, friends, other health professionals – or testimonials on this website – may be helpful.