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In the United States, DO's (Doctors of Osteopathy) hold the same unlimited practice rights as MD's in all 50 states; They may prescribe drugs and perform surgery. Like MD's, DO's attend 4 years of medical school and then complete residency training in hospitals and clinics in their given specialty. Many DO's and MD's work as colleagues in a range of medical settings, and commonly refer to one another. In addition to classic medical training, Osteopathic Physicians receive a foundation in Osteopathic Philosophy and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), which is more holistic in orientation, by acknowledging the interrelationship of body, mind, and spirit.

Osteopathic Principles

- The body is a unit
- Structure and function are interrelated
- The body is self-healing

Traditional Osteopathic Physicians use their hands to evaluate and treat a wide variety of conditions using gentle techniques to support the body's own self-healing mechanism. Osteopaths who specialize exclusively in this hands-on component can become Board Certified in OMM (also known as Neuromuscular Medicine or NMM). OMM evaluation and treatment can address problems in the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, fascia, and fluids that may cause pain or interfere with the body's optimal functioning. DOs, as well as MDs, and Dentists may also pursue training in the Cranial Field. Cranial work looks at the anatomy and physiology of the skull and central nervous system and can be helpful in a wide range of conditions, including headache, jaw strain, and fatigue.

Common reasons people see an osteopath include complaints of pain, including headaches, neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as issues in the extremities such as carpal tunnel, knee and hip pain, and lower extremity issues such as ankle instability and plantarfasciitis. Presenting problems can be recent or chronic, and related to sports injuries, automobile accidents, falls, or other trauma. For example, in the evaluation and treatment of a sprained ankle, Xray imaging to rule out fracture, rest, and medicine to help with pain may all be warranted. Osteopathic manipulation can additionally aid the healing process by addressing alignment in the bones, fascial strains, and muscle imbalances, which in turn can result in improved circulation and decreased pain and inflammation. Osteopathic care can also assist with breathing problems (such as asthma, or rib pain associated with coughing), circulation, digestion, sleep, and chronic issues such as fibromyalgia and rheumatic conditions. Women during pregnancy can be made significantly more comfortable, and their labor and delivery eased considerably with osteopathic treatment. Women postpartum often find strain from the birth process (such as neck pain, low back pain, and sciatica) can be reduced or alleviated with OMM. Even in healthy "normal" deliveries, tremendous pressures are placed on infants, especially their heads. Thus, newborn babies can also benefit from OMM.

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