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Osteopathic medicine

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • Cranial concept, cranial osteopathy, cranial rhythmic impulse, cranial therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, infantile craniopathies, D.O., DO, doctor of osteopathy, manipulation, mobilization, neck osteopathy, OMT, osteopath, osteopathic manipulative treatment, physical therapy, spinal manipulation.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Andrew Taylor Still, who was originally trained as a doctor of medicine, founded the discipline of osteopathy in 1874. Dr. Still started the first college of osteopathy in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri. He sought a holistic approach to treating illness and promoting health by enhancing the body's natural healing powers. His approach emphasized the relationship between body structure and function, and it aimed to focus on the whole patient (mind, body, and soul), rather than on symptoms.
  • Today, osteopathy in the United States combines conventional medical practices with osteopathic manipulation, physical therapy, and education about healthful posture and body positioning. With osteopathic manipulation, osteopaths, or doctors of osteopathy (DOs), use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to administer manual treatments. Osteopaths receive similar training as medical doctors (MDs), with additional training in osteopathic and holistic medicine. Osteopathic doctors perform all aspects of medicine, surgery, and emergency medicine, and they can prescribe drugs. Many osteopaths belong to the American Medical Association, as well as to the American Osteopathic Association. Osteopathy is sometimes confused with chiropractic, as both use spinal manipulation to treat patients.
  • Osteopaths often focus on the neuromusculoskeletal system and perform manipulations to treat a wide range of problems. Doctors of osteopathy are trained to evaluate the body by taking a patient's health history, focusing not only on health problems but on lifestyle issues as well. The practice of osteopathic medicine may involve massage, mobilization, and spinal manipulation. Osteopaths traditionally believe that the primary role of the health care provider is to facilitate the body's inherent ability to heal itself, that the structure and function of the body are closely related, and that problems in one organ affect other parts of the body. The traditional osteopathic view is that perfect alignment of the musculoskeletal system eliminates obstructions in blood and lymphatic flow, which in turn maximizes health. To ensure perfect alignment, a range of manipulative techniques have been developed. Examples include high-velocity thrusts, myofascial (muscle tissue) release, muscle energy techniques, counter strain, craniosacral therapies, and lymphatic drainage stimulation.
  • Osteopathy is a growing area of research and has been suggested for many conditions, such as low back pain. Osteopathic manipulation should be performed only by a qualified doctor of osteopathy. Osteopathic manipulation may be associated with adverse effects such as damage to the spinal cord or stroke (1). Avoid in patients with osteoporosis, tumors, or bleeding disorders.

Dosing/Toxicology

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Precautions/Contraindications

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Mechanism of Action

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History

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Evidence Table

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Evidence Discussion

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Products Studied

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.