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What is osteopathic medicine?

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Do you know what a DO is? Similar to an MD, a DO is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine ─ a board certified physician who completed extensive training including four years of medical school and 3-7 years of post-graduate training in their specialty (residency). At SIU Medicine, we are proud to be affiliated with a number of doctors of osteopathic medicine who provide expert care for our patients. We’re also home to a competitive DO residency program that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

What is a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)?

A DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and an MD (Doctor of Allopathic Medicine) are similar: both are fully trained physicians who are board-certified and licensed to practice medicine in the United States. One of the main differences between a DO and an MD is that a DO receives additional training and expertise in hands-on “whole person” care.

The basis of this holistic approach is the osteopathic tenet that the body is a unit consisting of body, mind, and spirit. For the body to function properly and heal itself effectively, these components must all be kept in order. DOs emphasize the prevention of disease, illness and injury in addition to diagnosis and treatment.

DOs receive additional training in a specialized hands-on healing technique called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). OMT consists of multiple techniques to help “reset” the structure of the body to help allow for optimal function as structure and function are intertwined. OMT addresses more than musculoskeletal pain; it can be utilized to help with any diagnosis of any body system. DOs are trained to assess, evaluate, and manage a person’s lifestyle and environment to improve outcomes. For a DO, patients aren’t just a collection of symptoms that need to be “fixed.” Instead, patients are considered an integral part of the health care team. The patient embodies a complex and nuanced system of influencing factors that can be modified and optimized for better wellness.

Currently, there are more than 140,000 DOs practicing in America, and the degree is growing in popularity. The number of DOs increased by 54 percent from 2010, according to the AOA.

Like MDs, DOs can also choose to specialize in any area of medicine, with primary care specialties being among the most popular areas for these physicians. You’ll often find DOs working in family medicine, general internal medicine, sports medicine, orthopedics, pediatrics or obstetrics and gynecology but they can be found in all specialties.

Conditions treated by a DO

DOs, like MDs, are trained to work with people from all walks of life who are dealing with a wide variety of health conditions. These may include asthma, sinus disorders, migraines and headaches, digestive problems, arthritis, chronic back pain, sports injuries, sleep/wake cycle disorders, and conditions affecting the musculoskeletal, lymphatic, circulatory, and nervous systems. OMT can be added to standard medical treatment of multiple diagnoses; not just pain.

Choosing DO at SIU Medicine: What to expect

At SIU Medicine, we’re proud to be home to a number of DOs providing patient care to members of our communities. When working with a DO, patients can expect:

  • A comprehensive, person-centered initial examination (which may include physical tests and lab work)
  • OMT and other manual therapy interventions
  • Individually tailored recommendations for nutrition, lifestyle and stress management
  • Medications as appropriate

DOs work to emphasize the ability of a person to heal him or herself. Our SIU Medicine DOs combine long-standing techniques as well as cutting edge research to enhance the patient experience and help people regain their active and productive lifestyles—no matter what condition they may have.

Would you like more individualized help in managing your disease, illness or injury? We invite you to contact SIU Medicine at 217-545-8000 to connect with a doctor and get started on your comprehensive and customized plan of care today.

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