What is a D.O.?

The Lancaster Osteopathic Health Foundation has a rich heritage of medicine base on work by D.O.s and continually devotes funding to encourage D.O.s to practice in Lancaster County. But what exactly is a D.O.?

What is Osteopathic Medicine?
When most people think about a doctor, they are inclined to think M.D. Allopathic medicine is the most widely practiced in America, but is by no means the only option. One of the most popular alternatives to M.D.s are D.O.s or doctors of osteopathic medicine.

Ostepathic medicine was conceived in the late 19th century by a doctor named Andrew Still, who, after observing contemporary medical practices, decided that the medical community was not doing an adequate job of treating patients due to an inappropriate approach to medicine. Still thought that the body operated similarly to a machine, with each part relying on the rest of the mechanisms to function properly, and that in order to best treat a patient, it was necessary to consider the body as a whole, instead of looking at maladies as independent from the systems within which they operated.

Today, D.O.s and M.D.s receive nearly identical educations; osteopathic medical schools teach the same skills in diagnosing and treating illnesses as allopathic medical schools and both offer training in surgery practices and specialty areas of medicine. The difference between the two, however, is the approach that D.O.s using when considering their patients; operating on the founding principles that Dr. Still followed over a century ago, osteopathic doctors have a holistic approach to medicine, and view their patient as a whole person.

Why Should I Choose a D.O.?
Ultimately, every person is different, and so when it comes to your medical treatment, you are the only person who can decide what will be the most effective for you. However, if you are considering osteopathic medicine as an alternative to your usual treatment, there are some things that you should consider.

Because of the holistic training that D.O.s receive in medical school, their main goal is not simply to treat whatever ailments you may be experiencing, but to help your body help itself to heal, and to help you prevent future disease and injury. Osteopathic treatments tend to be less focused on prescribed medicine than their allopathic counterparts (though your D.O. can certainly write you a prescription if he/she feels that it would be the best course of treatment), and often take a more physical approach.

Where Can I Find a D.O.?\
If you are interested in finding a D.O. near you, the American Osteopathic Association has compiled the names and locations of accredited D.O.s For more information, please refer to the AOA website.