Osteopathic medicine bases its treatment techniques on the principle that the body acts as a whole. Therefore, when one part is in an atypical position, it does not only affect that particular spot, but also the rest of the body. The parts of the body are all interconnected and any abnormality in structure or function results in discomfort.
Osteopathy is widely recognized as a treatment, or part of a treatment for various conditions. There are several forms of physical manipulation that are employed in this practice. Manipulation may involve a Doctor of Osteopathy moving a joint through its normal range of motion, placing a joint or muscle in a relaxed position and stretching and loosening it, as in craniomandibular osteopathy, moving a joint to find any restrictions, or forcing the muscles to go against resistance.
Osteopathic medicine is considered by many to be a protoscience, or a new area of scientific undertaking that is still in the process of being established. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Osteopathic treatment alone is effective in most diseases, although there are studies that indicate the benefits of Osteopathy to musculoskeletal problems and discomfort related to it.
Nevertheless, the principles and theories behind Osteopathy go in accordance with standard medical practices, and are based on the same scientific studies that other medical professionals use. In recent years, the differences between a doctor of Osteopathy and a doctor of medicine have become minimal.
The philosophy of Osteopathy is what sets it apart from other medical disciplines. In essence, it is a drug-free and non-invasive treatment that allows the body to heal itself. Osteopaths only intervene when the body is in distress and requires manipulation to the musculoskeletal system to promote its own healing process. Osteopaths also believe in working together with a system of other health providers as appropriate.