Osteopathy was founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Dr. Still was a Missouri medical physician who had become frustrated with what he saw as the ineffective nature of remedies at that time. He believed that the doctor’s role in fighting disease was to restore the body’ s proper musculoskeletal function. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Missouri in 1892. The school taught manual manipulation, nutrition, and lifestyle modifications rather than surgery and drug therapies.
The American Osteopathic Association was formed in 1901 to regulate the profession. In 1962, doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) was recognized for full practice rights in all 50 states (provided they obtain a license in any given state). By 1973, the California Medical Association invited osteopaths to join and become voting members.
Today, doctors of osteopathy get the same basic training as medical doctors (M.D.), but they also learn manipulation (hands-on adjustments of muscles, bones, and ligaments) and use this along with more conventional medical treatments. Most D.O.s are primary care practitioners, specializing in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, or pediatrics.
D.O.s practice in all specialties of medicine ranging from emergency medicine and cardiovascular surgery to psychiatry and geriatrics. D.O.s trained in various specialty areas take a whole patient (holistic) approach.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, there are more than 64,000 osteopathic physicians practicing in the United States today. Although osteopathic manipulations were once used to treat all forms of disease, now they are considered useful mostly for musculoskeletal conditions (such as back pain).