Osteopathic Medicine

From this site:

Not being a doctor, the articles on this site make sense. However, a few articles strike me as being funny. (article on the dangers of microwaves and how the goverment is covering it up)
Is the info on this site trustworthy, or is Osteopathic medicine closer to quack?

A D.O. degree is considered equivalent to a M.D. degree by state licensing boards.

An Osteopath’s focus is a little different - they tend to have less emphasis on basic science, a more holistic perspective, and spinal manipulation as an integral part of their training.

They are generally accepted into the identical training programs (internship/residency) with M.D.'s, although an osteopath would be more likely to enter a primary care care program (FP, Int Med, Peds, OB-GYN) than Derm or Ophthalmomolgy.

I would definitely not assume all or most D.O.s buy into the flake theory of the month, although they may be more supportive of patients looking into alternative or complementary therapies than M.D.s.

Here’s Quackwatch’s take on Osteopathy. Below is an excerpt from the article written by Stephen Barrett, M.D.:

[emphasis added]

Osteopathic medicine is far, far from “Quack”! There is, of course, the chance that the Osteopath is a Quack. MDs are founded and grounded in science, but we all know a GP or two that we’d call Quacks.

EPI, I can tell you that I couldn’t fo through life without my Osteo. I’ve been 90% pain free from migraines and TMJ for over 3 years.

My last two primary care doctors have been osteopaths. On the whole they’ve been very good physicians and as a layperson I can’t tell the difference between their methods and those of an MD.



Not to pick on Kamandi, but it seems that any discussion of non-traditional western medicine on these boards eventually links to Quackwatch. This site is anything but reliable. While it does expose many practitioners and practices that are bogus, it also hammers Accupuncture, vegetarianism, pharmacists who compound drugs (i.e. use anything that doesn’t come prepackaged from a pharmaceutical company), plus many others. The author of this site uses many of the same tactics that he accuses the “quacks” of using - selective reporting of medical studies being the most obvious. Witness his continuous backtracking on the use of Glucosamine sulfate for the treatment of Osteoarthritis, a treatment he ridiculed but now is softening his stance on. Expect to not see that listed on his site much longer.

He is a hard core “skeptic” who refuses to believe anything unless it is endorsed by the AMA and was taught to him in Med School. I wouldn’t rely on him as a source of solid information any more than I would the DO in the OP. OK?

Well, Lamar, in this case Quackwatch looks pretty reasonable to me. It admits that other than the fringe elements, osteopathy is a sound medical practice. Do you dispute the unproved, unscientific nature of cranial manipulation, and Quackwatch’s warnings about that?

As for the rest, instead of hijacking this thread, let’s retire to IMHO to discuss Is Quackwatch biased?

Wow, thanks for the responses. I think I will look further into OM, as some of the diets they suggest seem promising.
Lamar Mundane: One thing I noticed about Osteopathic Medicine, or at least the guy from the link I gave, is they do not like medicine like vaccines and alot of Pharmaceuticals. I kind of agree on some of it, like decongestants. As for Acupuncture… Well, I have always kind of saw it as quack in the same way Feng shui is. :slight_smile:

Well, I got my MD from Johns Hopkins, so I’m pretty mainstream myself. But I’ve worked closely with quite a few DO’s over the last 2 decades, and even had a couple as my own doctor from time to time.

The best ones I knew tended to distance themselves from basic osteopathic theories, and follow scientific method and the conventional medical wisdom which flowed from it. But they also tended to value and use their joint manipulation training to help deal with musculo-skeletal conditions, something I appreciated, and have often wished I had studied.

And I tend to agree with the assessment on Quackwatch. Most DO’s are fine physicians, with perhaps a slightly greater number of them straying out of the mainstream into such dubious areas as homeopathy and crystal healing, etc. than among MD’s. Not that MD’s don’t represent a sizeable number of the offbeat practitioners, mind you. There are far more MD’s than DO’s, and as a result, far more MD’s than DO’s pushing the envelope, and going beyond it.


IANAMD, and have had a D.O. as my primary care physician for several years. HOWEVER, I have some concerns about the training that some D.O.'s receive in comparison to M.D.'s. IAAL, and was involved with a medical malpractice case where the D.O. at issue did not have a four-year college degree (she had a two-year associate degree in court reporting). I was shocked to learn that a four-year degree was not a prerequisite for her admission to a school of osteopathic medicine (at least the one she went to). With those credentials, this osteopath was not participating in a top-flight internship after graduation, but rather was hired as a “locum tenens” (meaning “temp”) doc at an urgent care facility right after she graduated, where she managed to misdiagnose my client.

Granted, we would all hope that osteopathic school would teach an osteopath everything that he or she would need to know to practice, but I am discomforted by the fact that this osteopath had never taken a college level biology or chemistry course.

I have to second Quagdop’s comments. I’m an MD, but have had a DO as my personal physician. That was a few years ago, and I thought he was a fine internist. A couple of my neurologic colleagues are DO’s, and they are excellent neurologists, I even have a teaching appointment at a local Osteopathic school, where I teach DO students who rotate in my clinic.

As far as I can tell, DO’s training differs from that of MD’s by including “Osteopathic Manipulation Therapy.” I confess that I really don’t understand it, and it seems kind of like chiropractic manipulation. The science underlying OMT is not very clear and convincing. Nonetheless, I must say that I’ve had OMT for my migraines, and it seems to have helped a lot.

As an MD, I must say that I find the claim that DO’s “treat the whole patient” better than MD’s to be both untrue and even defamatory. MD’s and DO’s are PHYSICIANS, and both are well-trained to treat patients with scientific skill and respect. There are bad apples in both groups, but this has more to do with the particular physician than it has to do with his or her training as a DO or MD.

About a year ago I did a couple of hours worth of googling on DO’s. I was surprised to find out that they are in virtually every way the equivalent of MD’s. They go through medical school, internships, and residencies just like MD’s, and so far as I know, they all have a full four-year college degree, so I’m a bit surprised by houlihan’s story.

The original theory behind Osteopathic medicine was quite different from traditional medicine, but over the years they have gradually accepted orthodox medicine and have largely abandoned those ideas that made Osteopathy a distinct school of thought. The one remaining technique specific to Osteopathy is that of Therapeutic Manipulation. Although all DO’s are trained in this very few actually include it in their practice, and many DO’s are a bit embarrassed about the whole thing.

It is my opinion - and nothing more than that - that many if not most DO’s would rather have MD after their name but went the DO rout for practical, not philosophical, reasons.

Many years ago California allowed DO’s who wished to do so to “change” their “official” degree from DO to MD on their licensure documents. Quite a few, I believe a majority, decided to opt for this “upgrade,” which allowed them to use the MD after their names. That option was a one time deal and no longer available.

Although you wouldn’t know it from their advertizing DO’s as somehow more Holistic and patient-oriented than MD’s, there is a certain inferiority complex among Osteopaths.

One reason for this is the fact that, although many Osteopaths prefered to apply to Osteopathic schools, the fact is that quite a few, probably the majority, would have preferred to go to a regular medical school, but were rejected.

Also, the more competitive specialty residencies tend not to accept DO graduates in favor of equally qualified MD graduates. There are comparatively fewer DO than MD neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, etc.

IAAMD, and core faculty for an Internal Medicine training program.

About 20% of my colleagues and about 40% of the residents at any one time are DOs.

There is a subtle difference in approach. I wouldn’t call it a unique philosophy, and “whole patient” has been bandied about so much as to lose much of its meaning.

But Neurodoc’s observations that there are fewer DO neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, etc. echoes what I said earlier, and is due to the slight difference in emphasis in a DOs training compared with an MDs training. From day 1, DOs are being trained to become primary care doctors, not consultants who see a patient one or two times for one specific issue, and defer other matters to the primary care physician or provide recommendations for the referring physician to implement. To the degree that this represents a “whole patient” approach, it is largely true of DOs, but is equally true of MDs in primary care specialties. Some of the DO residents who graduate from our program do go into subspecialty training, but even so, they tend to gravitate towrds those where one is likely to become the primary care doc for a significant proportion of their patients - Oncology (cancer patients) and Nephrology (dialysis/transplant patients) and Infectious Disease (HIV-infected patients), for example, rather than Allergy or Gastroenterology. Some do decide they do not like primary care medicine, and shrug off the DO concept and go into more narrowly focused areas of medicine.

OMT, Osteopathic Maniulation Therapy, is considered mainstream for pretty much any kind of musculoskeletal disorder or chronic pain syndrome. A few DOs use it for treating a number of other conditions, however, such as asthma, peptic ulcer disease, or palpitations. This is not well accepted by MDs or most DOs, either.