Q: Is an osteopath different from a doctor?
A: An osteopath is a doctor. In the U.S. a physician can be either an M.D. (doctor of medicine, also called allopathic medicine) or a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy).
About five percent of American doctors are osteopaths. Both M.D.s and D.O.s go through four years of specialized schooling after college, studying the same subjects, and then get postgraduate training. Osteopathic schools emphasize primary care; thus most osteopaths are family practitioners, internists, gynecologists or pediatricians. Like M.D.s, osteopaths can prescribe drugs and perform surgery in the U.S. In Canada and some other countries, however, osteopaths are not licensed as “physicians.”
Osteopaths differ from M.D.s mainly in that osteopathic medicine stresses the role of the musculoskeletal system in a wide variety of disorders and instructs practitioners in hands-on manipulation treatment. Some osteopaths today, however, do not use manipulation therapy.