What is Osteopathic Medicine?

April 09, 2019
doctors in white coats

Osteopathic Medicine uses a whole body approach to health and healing. We use all of the medicines and therapies that traditional medical doctors (MDs) use in addition to more hands-on techniques to help the body heal itself. Everything is connected. Osteopaths are trained to take into consideration all pieces of a person and how they affect your daily life. The body is built to heal itself and we are here to help guide it using a whole person approach.

What’s the difference between a DO and an MD?

Osteopathic Medicine is practiced by Doctors in Osteopathy (DO). DOs are trained in a four year medical school and also complete a residency in the area they practice. DO physicians can practice in any area of medicine (family medicine, OB/GYN, surgery, orthopedics, emergency, etc). DO physicians can prescribe all of the same medicines and treatments that MDs can. In addition DOs can practice hands on treatments called Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. OMT DOs are able to use their hands to treat many different ailments to return the body to health and avoid unnecessary medications in many cases.

What is OMT?

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is a hands-on therapy that can treat many different medical diagnoses. There are treatments for all body areas. Believing the body has the ability to heal itself, DOs use their extra training to guide the body back to its healthy state. Common areas of use are: back pain, neck pain, headaches, pain during pregnancy, extremity swelling, upper respiratory infections, and some forms of abdominal pain. These are just a few of the many areas that can be treated. In many cases these treatments replace unnecessary medications and reduce the chances of unwanted side effects.

DO or MD?

We are all here with the same goal in mind, to take care of and help bring improved health to our patients. We work together daily to make this happen and use all the tools in our tool belts we can to help. The letters behind someone’s name are nowhere near as important as the trust and relationship you build with a physician throughout the years. There is no “one size fits all” approach to healthcare. Every patient is unique and needs to be treated as an individual and whole person. Both DOs and MDs do this. The most important thing to remember is to find a physician who will work together with you to achieve your health goals.

Dr. Toren Davis is medical director and faculty physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center - Coastal Family Medicine. Find a primary care doctor that’s right for you at nhrmcphysiciangroup.org.

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