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Treating the whole body rather than just the affected area is an important part of alternative medicine. Osteopathy, or Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy as it sometimes called, uses skeletal manipulation and deep muscle massage to relieve pain and the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

How Does Osteopathy Work?

A doctor of osteopathy is a licensed medical doctor. In addition to the conventional diagnostic and treatment tools, doctors of osteopathy use their hands to diagnose and treat illness by moving muscles and joints using stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.

During the initial office visit, the osteopath will take a complete medical history and do a complete physical exam, including any necessary tests. The doctor will also perform a structural exam, which includes:

  • A check of your posture, spine and balance
  • An evaluation of your hands, back and feet using his fingers
  • A check of joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments

The data collected from the medical history and various examinations are assessed and used to make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

How Did Osteopathy Originate?

The term “osteopathy” was developed by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. He coined the term about the time of the Civil War while he was creating this new treatment method.

He chose the name because his therapy was based on the concept that the osteon was the starting point for diagnosing disease. Osteons are the basic functional units of most bones.

This You Tube video created as an aide for anatomy students at Modesto Junior College explains osteons and their importance.

Dr. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy on May 10, 1892. The state of Missouri , where the school was located, acknowledged that Still’s curriculum was equivalent to a traditional medical school curriculum, and offered to grant him the charter to award MD degrees to the school’s graduates. However, Dr. Still felt that traditional medicine was too limiting and he opted to retain the DO degree, which doctors of osteopathy have continued to be awarded.

What are the Underlying Principles of Osteopathy?

According to the Glossary of Osteopathic Terminology prepared by the Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the fundamental definition of osteopathy is a “concept of health care that embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism’s structure (anatomy) and function (physiology).

These are the four principles of osteopathy:

  • The human body is a dynamic unit of function.
  • The body possesses self-regulatory mechanisms that are self-healing in nature.
  • Structure and function are interrelated at all levels.
  • Rational treatment is based on these principles.

How are Osteopaths Licensed?

These doctors are licensed by the state in which they practice; however, licensing requirements vary by state. In general, an osteopath can obtain a license by:

  • Passing the medical licensing examination administered by the state licensing board.
  • Having been awarded the certificate issued by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners after satisfying all requirements.
  • Having a license previously issued by another state accepted by the state where the doctor is currently practicing .

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