Osteopathy is a medical practice centered on wellness; it looks for the cause of distress, as opposed to merely treating symptoms. Doctors of osteopathy (DOs) are guided by the principle that there is an intelligence within us that is always seeking health. At OHM, we have a profound respect for this self-correcting, self-healing mechanism, known in osteopathy as primary respiration.
Just as tides ebb and flow in nature, so the tide of primary respiration moves in our bodies. The quality of this natural motion reflects an individual’s state of vitality and systemic balance. In one sense, the tide itself serves as the body’s inner doctor. When the inner doctor is unable to self-correct, osteopathic treatment can often be helpful.
Your body is a unified whole of interrelated systems, which is why symptoms alone often don’t provide an accurate picture of what’s going on. Working with our hands to sense the tone, integrity, and vitality of the entire system, we locate the root cause of the problem and identify the next step in the healing process. We see this as simply helping patients heal themselves, in the safest, most effective way.
Andrew Taylor Still and the History of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, DO developed the science and practice of osteopathy in the late 19th century, motivated by the tragic deaths of his three children, which occurred despite his medical training. Guided by the intelligence he perceived at work in nature, Dr. Still’s philosophy differed from established medical thinking by suggesting that the physician’s role is to find and invigorate the inherent health within patients, as opposed to identifying disease and treating symptoms.
He discovered that supporting the body’s structure and its function allowed self- healing and self-regulating forces to work much more efficiently. His new method of diagnosing and treating a wide range of problems and disease proved not only more effective, but safer. And yet to many, Dr. Still’s ideas remain as revolutionary today as they were 150 years ago.
The American School of Osteopathy, the first osteopathic medical school, opened in 1892. Today there are more than 30 colleges and universities in the United States that offer a doctor of osteopathy degree. Students complete four years of osteopathic medical school, where they receive the same training in sciences and clinical medicine as allopathic (MD) medical students. In addition, they complete 500 hours of training in anatomy and manual medicine.
After medical school, DOs can pursue an osteopathic internship or residency in neuromusculoskeletal medicine (NMM)—or in any other medical or surgical specialty. After the three-year NMM residency, physicians apply for board certification by the American Osteopathic Board of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine, one of the most comprehensive board exams in medicine.
“Allow the Intelligence within the patient to express its own unerring potency, rather than applying a blind force from without”