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Difference Between Allopathic and Osteopathic Physician

Allopathic vs Osteopathic Physician

There are two primary types of medical practice. One is called osteopathy and the other is allopathy. Osteopathic physicians are also known as DOs while Allopathic physicians are regarded as MDs.

The former (osteopathic doctors) receive trainings on manual medicine. The discipline itself has been developed around 1874 by Dr. Still. He developed osteopathy because of the failure of some physicians (during his time) in treating his children and wife which all died because of a certain illness. He then centered his ideals to the body’s own healing ability.

Some osteopathic techniques include the mere realigning or repositioning of the human body so as to lessen pain and improve general system functioning. Nevertheless, this discipline is now widely accepted to be somewhat part of medicine. Although many proponents of modern allopathic medicine still do not approve of such.

Osteopathic physicians undergo extensive OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine) training wherein the main emphasis is on the muscles and bones, and how these systems affect the general health and well-being of the individual. This training is basically grounded unto the philosophies of osteopathy that include seeing the symptoms in the patient’s context and seeing the patient as a whole individual. A good example is when a person is complaining of breathing difficulties. The physician grounded on osteopathic philosophies tries to look at the patient as a whole person and assesses whether the patient may have some abnormalities in the spinal curvature which make the symptom appear.

In terms of scope of practice, MDs or allopathic physicians share the most privileges worldwide as they are given a wider avenue to practice medicine compared to DOs. Osteopathic physicians have restricted practice rights in some countries like Ireland. Nevertheless, in the United States alone both types of physicians can enjoy practicing their craft on an unlimited basis.

The treatment modalities encouraged by osteopathic physicians are generally painless like counter strain and myofascial release techniques. Allopathic medicine encourages radical techniques that are often invasive in nature. These techniques are geared towards directly opposing the disease itself.

Although DOs and MDs are both licensed to practice medicine, they still differ from each other because:

  1. Osteopathic physicians are proponents of painless treatment modalities unlike allopathic physicians.
  2. Osteopathic physicians are linked more on the theory of the musculoskeletal system.
  3. Osteopathic physicians have less freedom of medical practice compared to allopathic physicians.
  4. Majority of the people nowadays instill a higher regard for allopathic physicians compared to their osteopathic counterparts who are sometimes viewed as ‘doctors of quackery.’
  5. Osteopathic physicians view the human body as a whole and not solely on the symptom itself.

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  1. The bottom bullets say that osteopathic physicians have fewer practice rights than do allopathic physicians. This is false. In the US DO’s can prescribe medication, perform surgery, and deliver babies. Many DO’s complete allopathic residencies alongside MD graduates. The reason DO’s in other countries are restricted is that they are only taught manual medicine and have adopted the DO degree, not to be confused with a US DO degree. Generally an ‘osteopath’ refers to a European DO, that is not unlike our chiropractors. In the US they are not referred to (at least accurately) as osteopaths, rather ‘osteopathic physicians’ as we are the only other physicians. The curriculum among DO and MD schools are identical, with osteopathic school having added coursework in osteopathic manual therapy. OMT has heavy use within the musculoskeletal system, but is not limited to that. Manipulations targeting autonomic nerve innervation, lymphatic flow, and movement of the intestines are taught as well. Not all DO’s practice extensive OMT in that it has almost become a specialty in itself, although all DO’s are qualified to practice it (much like prescribing certain pain meds amongst different specialized physicians.)

  2. I would tend to agree with Futuredo as on the AOA site they list an extensive array of post grad programs. How many are successfully entered I have no idea, but it would appear that the opportunities are there.


    Good luck!

    • I have found DO/ residents and physicians to be equally skilled but allopathic to be dependent on the arm of RX treatment to localized areas or organs of the body. In Contrast, D.O. physicians work in spacial resonance to an actual physical, visceral, & mucoskeletal physical evaluation. MD do not do any hands on physical evaluation anymore. Sad and wasted education 4 sure.

  3. I am looking for a new doctor. One i found has an MD and advertises that she does allopathic AND osteopathic medicine. That sounds unusual for an MD.

    Does that look like a good choice?

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