DO or D.O. - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

An osteopathic physician, or doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO), is licensed to perform healthcare services in the United States that includes patient examinations, the ordering of medical tests, reading and evaluating of tests, prescribing medicine, and performing surgeries. Basically, a DO physician can do anything a doctor can do, providing they have the appropriate training in specialty they are practicing. D.O.s are qualified to and do work in hospitals and medical clinics in all 50 states, and received their academic and clinical training at one of 25 medical schools in the US that offer the DO degree. To learn more about secondary education schools that offer the DO degree, check out the aacom website to find out the list of schools that are available and their locations. Currently, D.O.s make up a small percentage of the physicians in the US at about 7%. Osteopathic physicians are more likely to encourage patients to seek non-pharmaceutical supplements and herbal therapies then doctors, who view these herbal therapies as being of doubtful benefit. For example, osteopaths are more likely to encourage patients to try non-pharmaceutical therapies such as Scandent Schefflera - Qi Ye, which is a natural Chinese analgesic used to treat back pain. Though the differences between DO and MD physicians have traditionally been striking particularly in the treatment of mind and body as one system, MDs today are becoming more aware of the mind-body dynamic and treating accordingly.

Osteopathic doctors focus on treating the whole body (as opposed the specific illnesses or symptoms) and focus on the importance of balance and health across all body systems in order for the patient to feel comfortable and the subjective experience of health. The musculoskeletal system is thought to by on of the key elements in overall wellbeing and health. Osteopaths manually examine for imbalances in the tissues of the musculoskeletal system, and perform manual manipulations of the soft tissues of the spine to bring the patient back into proper alignment. Thought Dos are qualified to practice surgery is they choose that specialty, most focus on non-surgical approaches to treating back conditions such as sacro-iliac dysfunction, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. Non-surgical approaches commonly employed by DOs include osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), though they are qualified to prescribe medications and physical therapy if appropriate to treat the patient's condition.

Like M.D. physicians, D.O. who treat back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders are qualified to:
  • Be primary care providers
  • Perform neurosurgery, spinal surgery, orthopedic surgery, and surgical procedures at pain management centers in the 50 US states.
  • Perform minimally invasive surgery procedures, including: Laparoscopic Spinal Fusion, and Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Spinal Surgery.
  • Be conservative care specialists (such as the medical disciplines of sports medicine, neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation)
This field of medicine was first developed by Andrew Taylor, who was innovative in advancing the field of medicine in understanding illness and disease. This field developed into a scientific philosophy that includes these three fundamental ideas (Philosophy of Osteopathy):
  • The parts of the body make up a unified whole.
  • The body has a natural ability to self-heal and self-regulate.
  • The musculoskeletal system is a key element in maintaining health.