Doctors of Osteopathy are commonly referred to as Osteopathic physicians and surgeons or more colloquially as osteopaths.
Osteopathy is a confusing word meaning bone disease and was first used by Dr. A. T. Still, a country doctor from Missouri, in the late nineteenth century. Dr. Still developed the original ideas that came to be known as Osteopathy.
He saw the relationship between bodily structure and health and used the word Osteopathy to emphasize that bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia (collectively known as the soma) had a role in keeping the body’s internal organs (also known as the viscera) healthy.
We all know that changes in bodily structure causes a change in health. For instance if you injure yourself while exercising, the injured part swells, becomes painful and the use of the part is temporarily limited until it heals. Less obvious is that a change in health causes a change in bodily structure.
Imagine you have a problem with circulation to your heart. A well-trained osteopath can identify subtle clues in the muscles of your back, between the shoulder blades, that indicate a problem with your heart long before you might experience chest pain or shortness of breath.
Think of it as a two-way channel of communication, the inner workings of the body make themselves known via the covering of the body.
A D.O. can then use osteopathic manipulation as part of their medical treatment to correct changes in structure and function and in doing so restore health before the problem becomes deep-seated and causes clinical problems.
In other words, you have a built in early-warning system pre-wired into your body that most people are totally unaware of. It is through the use of this early warning system and the proper treatment of these subtle alterations by the use of osteopathic manipulations that a D.O. can reverse organ (visceral) malfunction.
D.O.s are among the finest physical diagnosticians in the world. They are the most sought after teachers of musculoskeletal medicine and palpatory diagnosis in the world. They are a proven and ideal bridge between traditional and alternative medicine. And D.O.s are physicians who know how to stimulate the body to heal itself.
Osteopathic physicians and surgeons are really the most thoroughly trained physicians and surgeons today.