Osteopathic doctors are physicians. A “DO” degree is equivalent to an “MD” degree. Education includes the same prerequisites and courses as in M. D. schools, with the addition of courses in osteopathic philosophy and in manual technique flowing from this philosophy.
Osteopathic philosophy was developed by American physician Andrew Taylor Still in the years after the Civil War. He identified and articulated principles of health and illness which are quite similar to those of traditional Chinese medicine. Dr. Still considered manual diagnosis and treatment as additions to the interventions already available to physicians. He focused on physical anatomy. Also he acknowledged the spiritual dimension of health.
Contemporary osteopathic physicians may practice any western specialty. In addition, they may choose osteopathic manipulative medicine, which is Dr. Sholars’ specialty. A doctor of osteopathy knows that there is more to health than the treatment of a specific disease.
There are four key principles of osteopathic philosophy:
- The body is capable of self-healing, self-regulation and self-maintenance. Sometimes assistance is needed, and this can be the osteopathic intervention.
- Structure and function of body parts are interrelated. When dysfunction occurs in one aspect the other is affected.
- The body works as a whole. It is a dynamic unit, including physical, mental and spiritual aspects.
- Treatment is designed to decrease or remove barriers to health, and enhance self-regulation and self-healing.