Although you may not realize this, there are two types of complete physicians in the United States who are fully qualified to prescribe medication and perform surgery-DOs and MDs. DOs, who make up approximately 8.5% of the U.S. physician population, can be found throughout all aspects of physician specialties, from general practice, anesthesiology, and radiology to dermatology, ophthalmology, and neurosurgery.
It is true that both DOs and MDs are similar in many ways:
DOs and MDs are frequently trained and educated together throughout the same hospital systems
DOs and MDs typically attend a four-year medical college following completion of a four-year bachelor's degree
DOs and MDs typically attend a post-medical school training consisting of several years of internship, residency, and fellowship
DOs and MDs must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses
DOs and MDs both practice in accredited and licensed health care facilities.
However, there is a difference that DOs can bring to patient care, especially throughout the field of pain management and rehabilitation. DOs have additional training in the musculoskeletal system and physical exam, and this focus becomes important when working to diagnose the origin or source of pain. The parts of the body that can produce pain are ubiquitous and imaging such as MRIs and X-rays can at times be limited. In addition to the added difficulty of treating pain without a correct diagnosis, pain is frequently due to a pathological process; because of this, determining the correct diagnosis is vital. In addition, osteopathic medicine also consists of gentle manual treatments that have been shown to provide equal pain relief when compared to oral pain medications (see here). It is for these reasons, as well as others, why osteopathic medicine helps play a vital role in helping to manage a patient who suffers from pain.