Osteopathic Physician

A licensed physician who treats patients using a whole-person approach, focusing on the musculoskeletal system.


An Osteopathic Physician, also known as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), is a licensed medical professional who takes a holistic approach to patient care. They focus on the musculoskeletal system and use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) alongside conventional medical practices to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Osteopathic Physicians emphasize the body's innate ability to heal itself and consider the interconnectedness of the musculoskeletal system, organs, and overall health when treating patients.

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Osteopathic medicine was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician, in 1874. Still believed that the body had an innate ability to heal itself and that the musculoskeletal system played a crucial role in overall health. He developed osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) as a means to promote healing and restore balance in the body. In 1892, Still established the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri, which marked the beginning of osteopathic medical education in the United States. Over time, the profession grew, and in 1973, the American Medical Association recognized osteopathic medicine as a distinct branch of medical practice.


  1. Whole-Person Approach Osteopathic Physicians consider the entire patient, including their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, when diagnosing and treating conditions.
  2. Musculoskeletal Expertise Osteopathic Physicians receive extensive training in the musculoskeletal system and can effectively diagnose and treat conditions related to muscles, bones, and joints.
  3. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) OMT is a hands-on technique used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury by manipulating the musculoskeletal system, promoting healing and pain relief.
  4. Emphasis on Preventive Care Osteopathic Physicians focus on preventive care, educating patients on lifestyle changes and self-care techniques to maintain optimal health and prevent future illnesses.
  5. Comprehensive Medical Training Osteopathic Physicians complete a rigorous medical education program, including medical school and residency, equipping them to practice in all areas of medicine.
  6. Patient-Centered Care Osteopathic Physicians prioritize building strong, trusting relationships with their patients, involving them in the decision-making process and tailoring treatment plans to their individual needs.

How It Works

Osteopathic physicians, also known as DOs, are medical doctors who practice a holistic approach to medicine. They focus on the musculoskeletal system, believing that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. DOs use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to diagnose and treat various conditions. OMT involves using their hands to apply pressure, stretch, and manipulate the musculoskeletal system to promote healing and relieve pain. DOs also emphasize preventive care and consider the patient's lifestyle, environment, and emotional well-being when developing treatment plans.


When seeking treatment from an osteopathic physician, it's essential to understand that their approach may differ from that of a traditional MD. While DOs are licensed to practice medicine and can prescribe medications and perform surgeries, they may prioritize non-invasive treatments and lifestyle modifications. Some patients may need time to adjust to this holistic approach. Additionally, not all medical conditions may be suitable for OMT, and it's crucial to discuss the treatment plan with the DO to ensure it aligns with your needs and preferences.

How Much It Costs

The cost of seeing an osteopathic physician can vary depending on factors such as location, insurance coverage, and the specific treatment required. In general, an initial consultation with a DO may range from $150 to $400, while follow-up visits may cost between $75 and $200. OMT sessions may be charged separately and can range from $50 to $200 per session. It's important to check with your insurance provider to determine if they cover osteopathic care and to what extent.

Virtual & Online Options

Virtual consultations with osteopathic physicians have become increasingly popular, offering convenience and accessibility. Online consultations allow patients to discuss their concerns and receive advice from the comfort of their own homes. However, OMT, a core component of osteopathic care, cannot be performed virtually. In-person visits are necessary for hands-on manipulation and treatment. When deciding between virtual and local options, consider the nature of your condition and whether hands-on treatment is essential for your recovery.


To practice as an osteopathic physician in the United States, one 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. DOs can pursue board certification in various specialties through the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) or the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Complementary Practices

Osteopathic physicians often incorporate other holistic and integrative medicine practices into their treatment plans. These may include acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, and mind-body techniques such as meditation and yoga. By combining these complementary practices with traditional osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), osteopathic physicians aim to address the root causes of health issues and promote overall well-being.

Practitioner Types

Osteopathic physicians, also known as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs), are licensed medical professionals who practice a whole-person approach to healthcare. They receive extensive training in the musculoskeletal system and use OMT to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. DOs can specialize in various fields, such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and surgery. In addition to DOs, other healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists and massage therapists, may work alongside osteopathic physicians to provide comprehensive care.

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

    • A: Both MDs (Doctors of Medicine) and DOs (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) are licensed physicians who can practice medicine in the United States. The main difference is that DOs receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system and use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) to diagnose and treat patients. DOs also tend to emphasize a more holistic and preventive approach to healthcare.
  • Q: Can osteopathic physicians prescribe medication?

    • A: Yes, osteopathic physicians are licensed to prescribe medication, perform surgery, and practice in all medical specialties, just like MDs. They complete a four-year undergraduate degree, four years of medical school, and a residency program in their chosen specialty.
  • Q: What conditions can osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) help with?

    • A: OMT can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, headaches, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, menstrual pain, and sinus disorders. It can also be used to promote overall health and well-being by improving circulation, reducing stress, and enhancing the body's natural healing abilities.
  • Q: Is osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) safe?

    • A: OMT is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed osteopathic physician. However, as with any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects. These may include temporary soreness, stiffness, or fatigue. It is essential to discuss any concerns with your osteopathic physician and provide them with a complete medical history before undergoing OMT.
  • 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 specific condition being treated. Some patients may benefit from weekly or biweekly sessions, while others may only need occasional check-ins. Your osteopathic physician will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and goals.


Osteopathic physicians offer a unique, holistic approach to healthcare that combines traditional medical practices with a focus on the musculoskeletal system and the body's natural ability to heal itself. By incorporating osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and other complementary practices, DOs aim to treat the whole person rather than just the symptoms of a specific condition. This approach can be particularly beneficial for patients seeking a more integrative and personalized approach to their health and well-being. As with any healthcare decision, it is essential to research and choose a licensed and experienced osteopathic physician who can provide the highest quality care tailored to your individual needs.