What is Osteopathy?

Its name derives from Ancient Greek "bone" and "sensitive to" or "responding to". Osteopathy, as traditionally called, or Osteopathic Medicine, is a patient-focused approach to health care that takes into account every aspect of the patient, including his or her physical, personal, and spiritual well-being. It was developed more than 130 years ago by Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, a frontier physician who recognized that focusing on disease only and/or using drugs to treat most conditions may not lead to optimum health, and may even harm the patient with its disregard for the patient’s own healing abilities. Understanding that the body is more than just a sum of its parts, osteopathic physicians (DOs) assist the patient’s innate capacity to heal by acknowledging and addressing the interrelationship of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones and organs.

The History of Osteopathy

Osteopathy was discovered by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the late 1800’s. Born in Virginia, one of nine children, his father was a Methodist minister and physician.  After studying medicine and serving an apprenticeship under his father, Still became a licensed MD in the state of Missouri. In the early 1860s, he completed additional coursework at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City, MO and went on to serve as a surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War. After the Civil War, he lost three of his children to spinal meningitis, this great personal tragedy convinced him to stop prescribing the crude drugs of his day and seek a more effective way of practicing medicine and approaching the human body.

Dr. Still spent the rest of his life studying the human body in all its scientific beauty, intricate interrelated complexities, perfectly balanced and designed to work in harmony with nature and within itself. He recognized that the human body was already designed with all its cures inside..it was a matter of maintaining  the musculoskeletal structure balanced and free of restrictions. He knew that to treat the person, you had to  include the body, mind, and spirit as it all affected the person’s health.  And that structure and function are intimately linked and interrelated. He also promoted the idea of “preventive medicine” and endorsed the philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the whole patient, rather than just the disease. In 1892, he founded the first school of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri.

For more information on Andrew Taylor Still, MD,DO and the History of Osteopathy, please visit, https://www.atsu.edu/museum-of-osteopathic-medicine/


Osteopathy Today

Today, osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest growing professions in the nation with over 145,000 D.O’s and osteopathic medical students in over 35 osteopathic medical colleges currently in the US. Reflective of the osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole person, many DOs will often go into the primary care fields: family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. There is also a long tradition of osteopathic physicians establishing practices in rural and medically under-served areas. Many osteopathic physicians also choose to specialize in fields like: surgery, anesthesiology, sports medicine, geriatrics, and emergency medicine.Osteopathic physicians are licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties.