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On osteopathy. March 1, 2008

Posted by phledge in medical school, osteopathy, phlegm.
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I chose to go to an osteopathic medical school because I knew there was something intrinsically different about osteopathic medicine.  (I will now confess that I wasn’t sure what that “something” actually was, but I know now since I got in.  Suckers.)  One of the things that really frustrates me is that most people assume DOs are “more holistic” in their patient approach.  Dude, you can’t teach that shit.  I have had more MDs who have a comprehensive health care approach than DOs.  The only real difference is osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM.  It can also be called OMT, t = treatment.  Anyway, I find that there are a lot of people in our school, and evidently across the country, who really don’t understand why we learn OMT.  Most of them assume that it’s just another tool in the toolbox, good for backache and neck pain, but not pertinent to anything like cancer or diabetes.  I am not about to tell anyone that you can cure cancer with OMT.  I will, however, say that you can ameliorate symptoms and improve other treatments using manipulation.  The three goals of OMT are to normalize fluid flow, autonomic function, and biomechanics.  If I want to use chemo on a patient who has cancer, I also want to help the lymphatics drain the congestion around the tumors, I want to increase the blood flow to those areas to increase the delivery of the chemo agent, I want the patient to be able to breathe better, I want them to be more comfortable, and I want the autonomic nervous system to settle down and balance through all of that.  OMT does those things.  I am so totally into this form of treatment that some people think I don’t plan on using medications, or endorsing surgery.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I also have had people ask me if I plan on specializing in OMM, and my answer is an unequivocal “no.”  People who specialize in OMM (while they definitely have my respect) usually end up seeing patients who are on their last leg having dealt with chronic pain issues for years or even decades, and my fascination with OMM has nothing to do with pain management.  My interest is purely in helping the body help itself, no matter what the disease process or state with which the patient presents.

 So that’s what I plan on doing as a physician.  I will write scripts, sew people up, do CPR, and refer to surgery, but only if the patient’s body can’t fix itself without those interventions.  I hope people want to be my patients as a result.

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