A rare bird: An Osteopathic Physician in St. Louis, MO
Since opening up Kathmandu Clinic, I recently found out that I am one of only a handful of physicians in the St. Louis area that provides Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT).
“What is OMT and osteo-whos-it medicine?”
I get this question quite frequently!
Osteopathic medicine was founded in 1892 in Kirksville, MO by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still—a son of a preacher and physician. He followed his father’s footsteps and even served as a surgeon in the Civil War.
Dr. Still’s story is of loss. In the 1850s his infant son died, as well as his wife during childbirth and then eventually his newborn. With grief and three children, he remarried. In1864, two more of his children and another child he had adopted died from meningitis. Then finally, a fourth child died of pneumonia.
Being a physician, having a child and a spouse, I cannot even imagine losing even though one knows so much! Being intimately knowledgeable in the field of medicine, yet losing your children to disease must have felt so hopeless. He must have felt so powerless.
But, A.T. Still phoenixed himself—rose from the ashes and kicked (and improved) conventional medicine of the times! He delved into studying the human body and finding improved ways of treating disease.
Osteopathic medicine is home grown in the United States of American. Even closer yet, Kirksville, MO was where he founded his first school. Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical care founded on the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for good health. He promoted preventive medicine. He thought that physicians should treat the whole patient—a holistic approach, rather than just the disease. For the 1800s this was revolutionary!
Dr. Still instilled his philosophy in the Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine:
- The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
- Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
In 2018, the thought that physicians should treat the whole patient is still revolutionary! We should take an introspective look at Dr. Still’s philosophies and really apply them to our practice of medicine and our approach to health. Traditional pharmaceutical medications are very useful!
“You’re sick with pneumonia. Here, let me give you some antibiotics for that.”
But, what if your doctor could do more than just that antibiotic and send you on your way?
Well, there are easy and painless techniques osteopathic physicians, like myself, can do to help you, the patient, along the healing process. There are ways in which osteopathic physicians can lay their hands on your body to help you get to feeling better. If you wanted to know the specifics for the example of pneumonia, there is rib raising, thoracic pump, doming of the diaphragm and muscle energy to rib 1. These have been studied, researched, and even published. It’s not just made up stuff! It works!
Dr. Still’s techniques, and many others that further developed OMT after him, can be used on many different medical conditions.