Osteopathy for back pain is certainly an ingrained aspect of the traditional medical approach to treatment. Osteopathy, also called osteopathic medicine, is practiced by physicians designated by the title, D.O. Many years ago, these doctors were quite different than M.D.s in their education and philosophical approach to patient care. However, time has erased most of the differences and now D.O.s usually treat back pain in much the same manner as M.D.s or any other traditionally-trained back specialist.
This article discusses the osteopathic approach to spine care and the ways in which traditional treatment philosophies have changed in the modern D.O. profession.
Osteopathy is a medical science which is practiced by licensed physicians who have earned doctoral degrees. Legally, there is no difference between the treatment qualifications of a D.O. or an M.D.
Osteopaths can embrace a great number of medical philosophies and each has individualized standards which may be applied to patient care. Some osteopaths follow the “old ways” when the difference between a D.O. and an M.D. were pronounced and obvious, even to laymen. However, most have blended into the modern medical system, offering little difference in treatment approach or application to medical doctors.
During my own back pain journey, I have been treated by both osteopathic physicians and medical doctors and have never noticed one iota of difference between the two in ideology or application.
In theory, osteopathy should offer patient far better results than treatment provided by M.D.s. This is due to some of the more enlightened healing philosophies embraced by the osteopathic profession, including:
The body can and will repair itself, if given the chance.
Patients must be treated mind, body and spirit, in order to remain healthy.
Therefore, theoretically, D.O.s should embrace mindbody medicine and shy away from prescribing back pain drugs or recommending back surgery as treatments, when at all possible. While some modern practitioners do follow these important guidelines, most modern osteopaths have jumped on the pharmaceutical and surgical bandwagons and offer patient the same old typically ineffective and unenlightened choices when it comes to care options.
This paradigm shift in practice is a direct result of the profitability of these types of treatments and a direct response to the way major insurance carriers reimburse for healthcare expenses. It is simply not profitable, or even possible, to spend too much time on diagnosis or alternative treatment. It seems that the only financial rewards come from drugging or cutting patients, regardless of the risks or poor results.
There is a good chance that many of you have been treated by an osteopath or are currently in treatment with one. Some of you may not even know it. If your doctor has a D.O. at the end of their name, rather than M.D., then you are part of the group.
I love to read the old osteopathic literature, as it certainly does embrace a far more enlightened view of the human being than is presently in vogue in the medical sector. There is little talk of Renee Descartes, or his ludicrous teachings, and more emphasis on the irrefutable connection between mind, body and spirit. Modern osteopaths would be best served by resurrecting this “old time religion”, but this would be damaging financially and we all know that today's doctors are in business to make money.
Unfortunately, in recent years, this fierce desire for profit has undermined good science, good medicine and even good sense, to such a degree that many people have taken to avoiding doctors altogether. Maybe this is a wise choice and some patients are surely better off with their decision...