Osteopathy – What is Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still after he became disillusioned with contemporary medicine. Osteopathic physicians have a distinctive philosophy of medicine, which emphasizes holism, self-regulation and the interrelationship of structure and function.

They complete four years of medical school and residency, just like their MD counterparts. However, during training osteopathic doctors receive additional instruction in a hands-on treatment called Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine also known as OMT.

Rational treatment

One of the unique things about osteopathy is that it emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function. This means that the body’s musculoskeletal system is important to health, and a key part of a doctor of osteopathy’s training is the ability to use their hands to identify the structural problems in the patient’s body. These can be in the bones, muscles or fascia, and they may affect organ systems such as the respiratory, circulatory or lymphatic.

Osteopathic physicians are trained to listen with their ears, to see with their eyes and to understand the whole person, and they use their hands – known as osteopathic manipulative treatment or OMT – to diagnose and treat illness and injury. They also teach patients how to take responsibility for their own health, which enables them to live longer and healthier lives.

The osteopathic medical profession is growing, and today one in four U.S. medical students enrolls in a college of osteopathic medicine. The osteopathic medical school at Touro Nevada is committed to the philosophy of osteopathic medicine and uses all-encompassing education, training and practice to deliver quality healthcare. The school is an affiliate of the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which makes it possible for osteopathic physicians to complete MD residencies and obtain full MD licensure. This helps ensure that osteopathic and allopathic physicians are treated equally in the medical field.


Doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed medical doctors, like MDs (Medical Doctors). They go through four years of medical school and at least three years of residency to be trained in their specialty. They use their stethoscopes and other medical exam equipment just as MDs do, but also have specialized training in a hands-on treatment called Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine or OMT.

DOs believe that the body has a natural tendency to be healthy and self-heal. They focus on the interrelationship of the body’s structure and function, recognizing that the musculoskeletal system plays an important role in health. In fact, the root of the word osteopathic is from Greek for bone.

A key part of a DO’s examination includes feeling the muscles, bones, and joints of the body for abnormalities that may affect your quality of life. These abnormalities are called somatic dysfunctions and the DO can identify them with their hands.

Osteopathic manipulations can help to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by these somatic dysfunctions. These treatments can be used to prevent surgery, complement the use of medication, or support the body’s ability to heal itself. Our bodies work together as a whole, so when one part of the body is causing problems with another part of the body, it throws off your whole system.

Interrelationship of structure and function

The osteopathic philosophy emphasizes interrelated unity of body systems, self-regulation and the interrelationship between structure and function. This allows the body to heal itself in times of illness, explains Dr. Joshua Trinidad, gynecologic oncologist at Novant Health. He is also a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), a distinct branch of medical practice that has become one of the fastest growing segments of medicine.

Unlike MDs, DOs are trained to view the entire person and believe that disease is a result of the interacting and changing conditions of the body and mind. They also have special training in the musculoskeletal system and can use hands-on manipulation to treat a wide range of problems, such as muscle spasms and joint restriction. This treatment is called osteopathy, or osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT).

During a thorough osteopathic structural exam, the doctor will feel the head to toes for abnormalities that can cause illness and pain. These abnormalities are called somatic dysfunctions and the osteopathic physician will gently apply pressure or manually manipulate muscles, joints and nerves to help alleviate the problem. This is a great way to improve posture, relieve pressure and reduce pain. In addition to osteopathic manipulation, doctors can also prescribe medications for chronic pain. Contact us today for a consultation with a doctor who specializes in osteopathic manipulation in Suffolk County.



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