The study of medicine has been around for centuries. It has led to invaluable scientific discoveries, remarkable advancements in both technologies and understanding, and has become the reason that the average life expectancy of an American is nearly 80 years old. As a field that’s always changing, the most recent adaptation takes the form of osteopathic medicine.
Whether you’re searching for family practice doctors or traditional primary care doctors, your odds of finding an osteopathic physician are increasing; though nine out of 10 doctors are doctors of medicine (MDs) and therefore follow the allopathic approach to medicine, there are estimated to be around 100,000 doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) currently practicing. The difference, though subtle, is distinctive.
“The osteopathic philosophy involves treating the mind, the body, and the spirit. It’s a more holistic approach,” says Michael Jonesco, DO, of Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus. “For the patient, the osteopathic approach is less about prescribing medications and medical procedures and more on the body trying to heal itself.”
This is one of the reasons so many addiction and detox doctors are osteopathic physicians: though the substance you’re addicted to requires medical attention, the addiction itself originated in the mind and must be addressed as well. By combining the two together, patients can receive a fully-rounded, more personal healing experience.
Their methodology requires a slightly different training background. Though they are taught all the same information as an MD, they receive additional musculoskeletal training (known as osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT). It is considered a “hands-on” healing method used to treat muscle pain. With over 20.5 million Americans suffering from a substance abuse disorder, aches and pains come with the territory; having a doctor who is capable of alleviating the physical discomfort associated with detox and withdrawal is every bit as important as monitoring a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate.
Deciding between the two options comes down to personal preference. As Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine said, “you want to choose someone you feel comfortable with. There are many resources to help you choose, and word of mouth is okay, too. But you need to do your homework.”