Distinctive Branch of Mainstream Medicine
I am constantly asked what
Osteopathic Medicine is, and if I am the same as a chiropractor?
First, the easy question: I am not
the same as a chiropractor. Chiropractors are not medical doctors, our training is vastly different and while I can do what
a chiropractor does, I can do much more.
Osteopathic doctors are medical doctors and take the same pre-medical program as MD’s
do (allopathic physicians) and the same primary courses in medical school. We have all the same specialties as allopathic
physicians. Osteopathic physicians are trained extensively in musculoskeletal medicine in order to learn and practice osteopathic
manipulative medicine. There are many forms of manipulation that we can do. Chiropractors do high velocity manipulation: that
pop and crunch effect you hear when you go there. Some of them are learning osteopathic techniques.
Many osteopathic physicians
stress the entire body and its role in health, as well as the role of nutrition, environmental and emotional factors that
affect health. That is how we are all trained. Because we learn and do manipulation, we start physical exam skills in our
first year (often the first week) of medical school. Additionally, we consider the body to be inter-communicative; by that
I mean that the body is a unit, with each part affecting other parts and being effected the same. Therefore, a patient with
a bowel problem probably has other issues with their health; i.e. you cannot treat an organ in isolation. So this is how the
origin of our statement about treating the body as a whole unit, and using holistic care, came into use.
We also recognize what we call
somatic-visceral and visceral-somatic pathways. This comes from the knowledge that at the spinal level there are interactions
between the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems with the cutaneous nerves. This creates a connection whereby one affects
the other. If someone has an ulcer in the stomach, we will find a corresponding somatic dysfunction at the spinal level.
Since I feel
that the body is one contiguous organ, which includes the brain, I expect that my patients will want to be part of the solution
to their health problems.
For more information, please go to the links section and click on
the AOA or the AAO.
Gail Dudley, D.O.