What is DO?
If you're like most people, you've been going to physicians ever since you were born, but you're unaware that some or all of them could have been osteopathic physicians, also known as DOs. You may not even be aware that there are two types of complete physicians in the United States—DOs and MDs.
The fact is that both DOs and MDs are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.
DOs and MDs are Alike in Many Ways
- Students entering both DO and MD medical colleges typically have already completed four-year bachelor's degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
- Both DOs and MDs complete four years of basic medical education.
- After medical school, both DOs and MDs obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. This training lasts three to eight years and prepares DOs and MDs to practice a specialty.
- Both DOs and MDs can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine—such as pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery or ophthalmology.
- DOs and MDs must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
- DOs and MDs both practice in accredited and licensed health care facilities.
- Together, DOs and MDs enhance the state of health care available in the U.S.
While DOs and MDs have many things in common, osteopathic medicine is a parallel branch of American medicine with a distinct philosophy and approach to patient care. DOs can bring an extra dimension to your health care through their unique skills.
The Osteopathic Approach For more than a century, osteopathic physicians have built a tradition of bringing health care to where it is needed most:
- Approximately 60% of practicing osteopathic physicians practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.
- Many DOs fill a critical need for physicians by practicing in rural and other medically underserved communities.
In addition, these modern-day pioneers practice on the cutting edge of medicine. DOs combine today's medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patients, with their eyes to see their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and illness.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment
Nearly every day, medical science unveils new discoveries from brain scans to anti-cancer drugs. In the midst of these wonders, it's easy to forget that sometimes what patients really need is a healing touch. Osteopathic physicians haven't forgotten.
Osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT, is hands-on care. It involves using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Using OMT, your osteopathic physician will move your muscles and joints using techniques including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.
Who Can Benefit from OMT?
OMT can help people of all ages and backgrounds. The treatment can be used to ease pain, promote healing and increase overall mobility. OMT is often used for pain relief. But it can also help patients with a number of other health problems such as:
- sinus disorders
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- menstrual pain
When appropriate, OMT can complement, and even replace, drugs or surgery. In this way, OMT brings an important dimension to standard medical care.
Dr. Amaro applies a wide range of techniques tailored to your individual needs:
- Balanced Membranous/Ligamentous Tension
Facilitated Positional Release & Still Technique
- Muscle Energy
- High-Velocity Low Amplitude - similar to the pops and cracks many associate with chiropractors
- Myofascial Release
- Soft Tissue
- Balanced Membranous/Ligamentous Tension
The History of Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical care founded on the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for good health. This philosophy was developed in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who pioneered the concept of "wellness" and recognized the importance of treating illness within the context of the whole body. Osteopathic physicians use all of the tools available through modern medicine including prescription medicine and surgery. They also incorporate osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) into their regimen of patient care when appropriate. OMM is a set of manual medicine techniques that may be used to diagnose illness and injury, relieve pain, restore range of motion, and enhance the body's capacity to heal.
Physicians licensed as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs), like their allopathic counterparts (MDs), must pass a national or state medical board examination in order to obtain a license to practice medicine. DOs provide comprehensive medical care to patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Currently, there are more than 50,000 DOs practicing in the United States. Reflecting the osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole person, many DOs serve in the primary care areas of family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics, often establishing their practices in medically underserved areas. But many others are found in a wide range of medical specialties including surgery, anesthesiology, sports medicine, geriatrics, and emergency medicine. Still, others serve as health care policy leaders at the local, state, and national levels. In addition, an increasing emphasis on biomedical research at several of the osteopathic colleges has expanded opportunities for DOs interested in pursuing careers in medical research.
Andrew Taylor Still was born in Virginia in 1828, the son of a Methodist minister and physician. At an early age, Still decided to follow in his father's footsteps as a physician. After studying medicine and serving an apprenticeship under his father, Still became a licensed MD in the state of Missouri. Later, in the early 1860s, he completed additional coursework at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City, Missouri. He went on to serve as a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War.
After the Civil War and following the death of three of his children from spinal meningitis in 1864, Still concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were frequently ineffective, and sometimes harmful. He devoted the next ten years of his life to studying the human body and finding better ways to treat disease.
His research and clinical observations led him to believe that the musculoskeletal system played a vital role in health and disease and that the body contained all of the elements needed to maintain health, if properly stimulated. Still believed that by correcting problems in the body's structure, through the use of manual techniques now known as osteopathic manipulative treatment, the body's ability to function and to heal itself could be greatly improved. He also promoted the idea of preventive medicine and endorsed the philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the whole patient, rather than just the disease.
These beliefs formed the basis of a new medical approach, osteopathic medicine. Based on this philosophy, Dr. Still opened the first school of osteopathic medicine in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.