The systems based approach to medicine is abandoned for the ideal that the body is one interconnected unit in osteopathic medicine. Medical specialist of certain anatomical regions of the body should not be the sole individuals to care for pathology in those particular organ systems. Although D.O.s do exist who are specialist in certain organ systems in the body, the cohesiveness of the body as one intricate unit remains paramount in their clinical training and daily patient treatment.

The interconnectedness of the body and function as a cohesive unit provides glaring proof that the "mind-body-spirit" approach in osteopathic medicine is key to health. It is this very relationship between the different parts of the body which D.O.s must take into account with for example a somatic dysfunction in the ankle, which may lead to decreased activity and depression, causing debility and weight gain, potentially diabetes, atherosclerosis, CVA or MI. Although this may be an exaggerated scenario, the relation between the "systems" across the body is evident, although not recognized by all practitioners who carry the title of physician.

Body structure and function are intimately related. This fundamental truth is glaringly obvious in the words of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who stated, "Structure and functions...are in harmonious accord with their own mechanical principles." Just as mainstream medicine uses chemically altered isomers to glide into receptors on the microbiological level, surgical producers work on the gross macroscopic level to manipulate the structure and therefore function of the body. Along these same lines the use of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) allows for the microscopic to be targeted through treatments such as sympathetic manipulation, or the macroscopic to be adjust through "HVLA". Thus OMM employs the same general principals which provide the core principles which "mainstream" medicine uses to treat patients. Even in those cases in which D.O.s defer from using manipulative medicine, their training as osteopathic physicians has opened their eyes to the importance of structure and function on all levels and how to approach patient care.

Osteopathic physicians stay up to date with the latest advances in patient care and in many fields are leading the way in medical research, but we do not shun treatments which are "outside of the box". D.O.s reserve the option to the use of non-traditional medicine in the treatment of patients. For example many people may think that chewing on tree bark is odd. Such an act may be discouraged by many modern medical practitioners. In reality, the Haudenosaunee Native Americans of the North Eastern United States would chew on the bark of willow trees to relieve headaches and pain. It would be revealed many years later that this contained active ingredient for modern day aspirin. If one was not open to the idea of holistic and natural healing methods, then we may not have this medication available to use today, which has to date alleviated pain, prevented millions of strokes, heart attacks, and prevented death. D.O.s take all the benefits of modern medicine and look beyond to bring the treatments of the past and the future, into use today.

The field of osteopathic orthopedic medicine incorporates all the vital aspects osteopathic medical care as described above. Interconnectedness of the body's systems is evident in the treatment of orthopedic pathology via addressing musculoskeletal issues while simultaneously incorporating the "mind-body-spirit" methodology of osteopathy. The importance of structure and function in relation to the musculoskeletal system is evident in the very nature of the field of orthopedics. Both orthopedic surgery and manipulative medicine play upon the intricacy of bone and muscle placement into their proper alignment and motions in order to achieve treatment goals. Osteopathic surgeons are leading the field with breakthroughs in multiple aspects of research, from pediatric osseous pathology to elderly osteoporotic fractures. This is evident in the multiple publications placed in distinguished medical journals, circulated around the globe. Holistic and alternative medical treatments are utilized, as the physicians incorporate currently accepted treatments, while striving to develop the treatments of the future. Osteopathic orthopedic surgeons are leading the field in the treatment of musculoskeletal pathology.

Jason Samona MS III
Michigan State University
College of Osteopathic Medicine