Osteopathic Medicine (Osteopathy) originated from the United States in the late eighteenth century, and coined by a physician and surgeon named Andrew Taylor Still. An Osteopathic Medicine Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)  is a licensed physician who uses medical interventions involving the treatment of the entire body to improve health and wellness, rather than treating the symptoms of the disease state of an individual. It is an approach that provides patients with the right attitude and lifestyle needed to treat an illness and also prevent any reoccurrence.

A osteopathic doctor at work


Dr. Andrew Still was curious about the relationship between body parts and good health, and from his exploration, however, he concluded that the musculoskeletal system was responsible for an element of well-being. He designed an approach that entails returning the body from a diseased state to health through several manipulations based on the understanding of the body system. This practice led to the establishment of the first Osteopathic Medical School, and the American Osteopathic Association in Missouri, in 1892 and 1897 respectively.

One of the intrinsic aspects of their work is Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, which entails massaging, stretching, and coordinated movement of the musculoskeletal system. They are licensed to give prescriptions, perform surgeries, and use imaging techniques to diagnose and treat certain illnesses, reduce pains, and improve mobility and blood circulation in the body.



Some of the disorders managed by an Osteopathic Medicine Doctor include;

  • Neck pain
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal arthritis, including¬†osteoarthritis
  • Sports injuries
  • Upper back pain
  • Whiplash
  • Acute and chronic back pain
  • Back sprains and strains
  • Cervicogenic headaches
  • Degenerative spinal disorders
  • Joint pain and dysfunction
  • Low back pain
  • Myofascial pain, such as¬†fibromyalgia


  • The number of practicing Osteopathic Doctors (DOs) in the United States quadrupled since 1990.
  • As at 2022, the profession has gained the interest of young practitioners, such that, more than two-thirds of practicing DOs are under 45 years. This is a factor that projects the sustainability of this area of medicine.
  • Also, there is an increased number of practicing female DOs. As of 2022, 43 percent of practicing DOs are women.
  • There are about 7,000 new osteopathic physicians employed in the workforce each year.
  • The average salary of DOs has also improved greatly over the past years.


The training is similar to the doctor of medicine (MD) degree, however, after the medical school training, DOs take the national licensure exam, coordinated and approved by state medical examination boards. They must complete a residency program in a chosen field of medicine, such as Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, General Surgery, and Psychiatry, which could last between 1-7 years. Presently, there are 37 accredited colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in the United States.

Where osteopathic doctors can work


In conclusion, the advent of Digital Health Technologies (DHT) has repositioned the outcome of services rendered by Osteopathic Medicine Doctors. These technological advancements include the use of digital health innovations such as mobile-friendly apps, health devices, and electronic documentation procedures. Lastly, when policies are established and implemented, it will further strengthen the awareness and acceptability of the profession globally.

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