Osteopathic medicine

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Not to be confused with osteopathy.

Osteopathic medicine is a branch of the medical profession practiced primarily in the United States,[1][2] but has also spread into other countries, notably Canada.

United States[edit]

Founded as osteopathy by frontier physician Andrew Taylor Still as a partial rejection of the prevailing system of medical thought of the 19th century including its use of often caustic and/or toxic medicinal substances and dangerous surgeries. The profession maintained ties and gradually moved closer to mainstream medicine in its practices, and came to be called "osteopathic medicine".[3] Today, the training of osteopathic physicians is virtually identical to that of their MD counterparts.[4] Osteopathic physicians use all conventional methods of diagnosis and treatment but are trained to place additional emphasis on the achievement of normal body mechanics as central to maintaining good health.[5] DO physicians receive training in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), a form of manual therapy shown to be of benefit for patients with certain musculo-skeletal disorders.[6] However, this form of therapy is used by a minority of osteopathic physicians in actual practice.[7] In the United States, osteopathic medicine is considered by some both a profession and a social movement.[8][9] Osteopathic physicians educated in the United States should not be confused with non-physician osteopaths, whose training and practice are largely limited to manual therapeutic techniques.


Osteopathic physicians in Canada are first educated in the United States. Such physicians are represented by the Canadian Osteopathic Association. Though licensure requirements for physicians varies by province in Canada, osteopathic physicians are generally able to obtain a license to practice medicine across the country.

Osteopathic physicians educated in the United States should not be confused with non-physician osteopaths. Osteopathic physicians are educated and trained in the United States and may practice in Canada as fully licensed physicians, as in a number of other countries outside of the United States. There are no colleges of Osteopathic medicine in Canada. Only those graduates of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine are eligible for licensure to practice Osteopathic Medicine in Canada. The authority for licensure of American osteopathic graduates lies with the provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons.[10][11][12][13][14][15] The Canadian Osteopathic Association[16] has been representing osteopathic physicians in Canada for more than 80 years and has enabled near uniform licensure across Canada for American osteopathic graduates. For more details regarding the practice of osteopathic medicine in Canada, visit the Canadian Osteopathic Association website.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Meyer CT, Price A (1 Apr 1993). "Osteopathic medicine: a call for reform". J Am Osteopath Assoc 93 (4): 473–85. PMID 8267703. 
  4. ^ Dennis L. Kasper, Eugene Braunwald, Anthony S. Fauci, Stephen L. Hauser, Dan L. Longo, J. Larry Jameson, and Kurt J. Isselbacher, Eds. Chapter 10. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 16th Ed. 2005. McGraw Hill.
  5. ^ Lesho, Emil. An Overview of Osteopathic Medicine. Arch Fam Med. 1999;8:477-484. PMID 10575385
  6. ^ Osteopathic medicine. Intelihealth.com. accessed Dec 2007.
  7. ^ Johnson, SM, Kurtz, ME, Kurtz, JC. “Variables influencing the use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment in Family Practice.” J Amer Osteopathic Assoc, 1997;97:80-87. PMID 9059002
  8. ^ Zuger A. Scorned No More, Osteopathy Is on the Rise. New York Times. 17 Feb 1998.
  9. ^ Gevitz N (1 Apr 1994). "'Parallel and distinctive': the philosophic pathway for reform in osteopathic medical education". J Am Osteopath Assoc 94 (4): 328–32. PMID 8027001. 
  10. ^ Canadian Osteopathic Practice (.doc)
  11. ^ Ontario Medicine Act – Restricted Titles, Section 9
  12. ^ Ontario College of Physicians Doctor of Osteopathy Registration Policy Statement [3]
  13. ^ British Columbia Medical Practitioners Act Section 40 Registration of Osteopaths [4]
  14. ^ Alberta Medical Profession Act Sections 3 and 18
  15. ^ Albert Health Professions Act Schedule 21 Use of Titles
  16. ^ Canadian Osteopathic Association