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Doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.s), more commonly referred to as osteopaths, practice a medical discipline that uses refined and sophisticated manipulative therapy based on the late 19th-century teachings of American Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. This field embraces the idea of "whole person" medicine and looks upon the system of muscles, bones, and joints—particularly the spine—as reflecting the body's diseases and as being partially responsible for initiating disease processes.
Osteopaths (D.O.s) represent one of two types of physicians (the other type is an M.D.). Osteopaths, similar to M.D.s, are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. They practice in a wide range of fields, from environmental medicine, geriatrics, and nutrition to sports medicine and neurology, among others. Today, more than 20 percent of medical students are studying at osteopathic medical schools. Approximately 82,000 osteopathic physicians are employed in the United States, according to the American Osteopathic Association.