Osteopathy began in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, a physician and surgeon with the US Army during the Civil War. Through the sickness and death of three of his children from spinal meningitis he had grown dissatisfied with the medical practices of his day and believed there was a more effective way. He believed that bone structure was the starting point to determine the causes of pathological conditions. He founded the American School of Osteopathy in 1892. The state of Missouri was willing to grant him a charter to award an MD degree but Andrew Still declined due to his prejudice against conventional medicine. He instead chose to retain a Doctor of Osteopathy degree (DO). Internationally, osteopathy is practiced throughout the EU, Israel, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The goal of osteopathic treatment is to resolve somatic dysfunction. This essentially states that a muscular issue with an organ can result in the development of an associated disease. By utilizing a variety of manual and physical techniques, osteopaths look to fix these musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Osteopathy is used for the treatment of lower back pain, tension headache, and the management of asthma, menstrual pain, and pulmonary infection.
Those wishing to become Osteopaths must first complete a bachelor’s degree- most students will pursue in pre-med or a science track. They must then complete a Doctorate of Osteopathy (D.O.) at one of the 18 schools approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Schooling is similar to traditional medical school, lasting four years, followed by a two to three year residency and optional additional fellowship in a specialty. In addition to this schooling practitioners must complete 150 credit hours of ongoing education every three years in order to maintain their certification.
Credentials and Regulation Bodies
The Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists is the certifying regulating body for osteopathy. The Bureau establishes and maintains standards at which professionals must operate within the field.
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) is the official national association of osteopathic professionals. This association encompasses the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.
Osteopathic practitioners generally provides services in a hospital and do not charge for their individual services. Insurance may cover osteopathic treatment. Inquire with your insurance provider to understand your scope of coverage.
To learn more about Osteopathy, visit the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).