Osteopathic Medicine:
The Patient-Centered, Whole-Person Difference

Osteopathic MedicineBy Carolyn Krieg, D.O.

People sometimes ask. “What’s the difference between an M.D. and a D.O.?” And “Do you practice manipulation?” I’m delighted to explain. First of all…

  • Physicians and surgeons holding a degree as either Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) have the same responsibilities, rights and privileges.
  • Both are licensed to provide the full range of medical and surgical services in the United States and numerous other countries.
  • Both use the same recognized procedures and technologies including drugs, radiation and surgery.
  • Both receive the same training, except that osteopathic physicians are additionally trained to recognize the relationship between the musculoskeletal system and the function of other systems. This training includes hands-on manipulation* as a form of diagnosis and treatment; and the holistic approach to medicine.

So considering the similarities, you might be asking what I mean by “the patient-centered, whole-person difference.” It’s a way of saying that osteopathic medicine opens doors to more opportunities for patients to improve their quality of life and achieve a lasting state of wellness.

Expanding the Reach of Mainstream Medical Care

As mentioned on our home page, “wellness must be more than the absence of illness.” This means the goal is to get and keep our patients on track for a lifetime of optimized health. The core principles of osteopathic medicine guide us to meet this goal through a holistic approach which includes:

  • Adding pro-active, preventive, non-invasive and lifestyle-altering forms of treatment to conventional medicine.
  • Performing practices of integrative medicine.
  • Emphasis on customized nutritional and lifestyle coaching.
  • Guidance in supplementation tailored to the patient’s unique needs.
  • Treating not just the disease but the whole person — recognizing the interdependence of body, mind and spirit.
  • Considering the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
  • Emphasizing a collaborative partnership requiring patient responsibility and accountability.

In summary, an underlying principle of osteopathic medicine is that the osteopath’s job is to facilitate the body’s own healing powers. Thus they tend to be more open to alternative approaches when treating chronic disease while also educating and guiding all patients in common-sense proactive and preventive health care.

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*Note that some D.O.s go on to specialize in osteopathic manipulative treatment. Although at New Beginnings we incorporate the philosophy of structure and function into our practice, we do not specialize in manipulation techniques.