Osteopathic Medicine

A holistic medical approach that focuses on the musculoskeletal system to treat the whole person.


Osteopathic medicine is a distinct branch of medical practice that emphasizes the body's innate ability to heal itself. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) use a holistic approach to patient care, considering the interconnectedness of the musculoskeletal system, organs, and overall health. They employ osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) alongside conventional medical techniques to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury.

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Osteopathic medicine was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, a physician and surgeon, in 1874. Still believed that the body had an inherent capacity to heal itself and that the musculoskeletal system played a crucial role in overall health. He developed osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) techniques to help restore balance and promote healing. The first school of osteopathic medicine, the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University), was established in 1892. Over time, osteopathic medicine has evolved to incorporate modern medical practices while maintaining its holistic principles.


  1. Holistic Approach Osteopathic medicine takes a comprehensive view of health, considering the interconnectedness of the musculoskeletal system, organs, and overall well-being.
  2. Non-Invasive Treatment Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is a gentle, hands-on technique that can help alleviate pain, improve mobility, and promote healing without the use of drugs or surgery.
  3. Preventive Care Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the importance of preventive care, encouraging patients to adopt healthy lifestyles and addressing potential health issues before they develop into serious problems.
  4. Personalized Treatment DOs take the time to understand each patient's unique needs, preferences, and lifestyle factors, allowing for a more personalized and effective treatment plan.
  5. Complementary to Conventional Medicine Osteopathic medicine can be used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments, providing patients with a well-rounded approach to their health and well-being.

How It Works

Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive approach to medical care that emphasizes the body's innate ability to heal itself. Osteopathic physicians (DOs) receive extensive training in the musculoskeletal system and use hands-on techniques such as osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. OMT involves gentle manipulation of the muscles, joints, and soft tissues to promote healing, relieve pain, and improve overall function. DOs also focus on treating the whole person, considering factors such as lifestyle, environment, and emotional well-being when developing personalized treatment plans.


When seeking osteopathic care, it is essential to ensure that the practitioner is a licensed osteopathic physician (DO). While DOs and MDs receive similar training and can practice in all areas of medicine, DOs have additional training in OMT and a holistic approach to patient care. Some conditions may require a combination of OMT and conventional medical treatments, so open communication with your healthcare provider is crucial. As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary, and it is essential to have realistic expectations and follow your physician's recommendations for optimal outcomes.

How Much It Costs

The cost of osteopathic medicine can vary depending on factors such as location, insurance coverage, and the specific services required. In general, a consultation with an osteopathic physician may range from $100 to $300 without insurance. OMT sessions can cost anywhere from $75 to $200 per session, depending on the complexity of the treatment and the duration of the session. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover osteopathic care, but it is essential to check with your provider for specific coverage details and any potential out-of-pocket expenses.

Virtual & Online Options

While some aspects of osteopathic care, such as OMT, require in-person treatment, many DOs offer virtual consultations for initial assessments, follow-ups, and non-hands-on aspects of care. Online options provide convenience and accessibility, particularly for patients with mobility issues or those living in remote areas. However, in-person visits are essential for hands-on diagnosis and treatment, as well as for building a strong patient-physician relationship. When searching for "osteopathic medicine near me," patients can find local DOs who offer a combination of in-person and virtual care options to meet their individual needs.


To practice osteopathic medicine in the United States, physicians must complete a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years of medical school at an accredited osteopathic medical college. After completing medical school, DOs must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) and complete a residency program in their chosen specialty. Board certification is available through the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in various specialties, demonstrating a DO's expertise and commitment to continuing education. Licensure requirements vary by state, so it is essential for osteopathic physicians to meet the specific requirements of the state in which they practice.

Complementary Practices

Osteopathic medicine can be complemented by other holistic therapies and practices such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, naturopathy, and yoga. These practices share a focus on treating the whole person and promoting the body's natural healing abilities. Combining osteopathic medicine with these complementary approaches can provide a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to health and wellness.

Practitioner Types

Osteopathic medicine is practiced by licensed osteopathic physicians (DOs). DOs undergo extensive medical training similar to MDs, but with additional education in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and a holistic approach to patient care. Other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and massage therapists, may collaborate with DOs to provide complementary treatments and support the overall treatment plan.

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  • Q: What is the difference between a DO and an MD?

    • A: Both DOs and MDs are licensed physicians who can practice in all areas of medicine. However, DOs receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and take a more holistic approach to patient care, focusing on the musculoskeletal system and the body's natural ability to heal itself.
  • Q: Can osteopathic medicine help with chronic pain?

    • A: Yes, osteopathic medicine can be effective in managing chronic pain conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches. DOs use a combination of OMT, prescription medications, and lifestyle recommendations to help alleviate pain and improve overall function.
  • Q: Is osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) safe?

    • A: OMT is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed osteopathic physician. The techniques used in OMT are gentle and non-invasive, with a low risk of adverse effects. However, as with any medical treatment, there may be some contraindications, and it is essential to consult with a qualified DO to determine if OMT is appropriate for your specific condition.
  • Q: Can osteopathic medicine be used to treat infants and children?

    • A: Yes, osteopathic medicine can be beneficial for infants and children. DOs can help address a variety of pediatric concerns, such as colic, ear infections, asthma, and developmental delays, using gentle OMT techniques tailored to the child's age and condition. Osteopathic care can also support overall growth and development in children.
  • Q: How often should I see an osteopathic physician for treatment?

    • A: The frequency of visits to an osteopathic physician depends on your individual health needs and the severity of your condition. Some patients may benefit from weekly or bi-weekly treatments, while others may require less frequent visits. Your DO will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific concerns and goals.


Osteopathic medicine offers a unique, holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on the musculoskeletal system and the body's natural ability to heal itself. By combining traditional medical practices with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), DOs can help patients achieve optimal health and wellness. Osteopathic medicine can be effectively integrated with other complementary therapies, providing a comprehensive, patient-centered approach to care. Whether you're seeking relief from chronic pain, managing a specific health condition, or simply looking to improve your overall well-being, osteopathic medicine may offer a valuable pathway to achieving your health goals.