Osteopathy is an approach to health care that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease. In most countries osteopathy is a form of complementary medicine, emphasizing a holistic approach and the skilled use of a range of manual and physical treatment interventions (osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM in the United States) in the prevention and treatment of disease. In practice, this most commonly relates to musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain.
Many osteopaths see their role as facilitating the body's own recuperative powers by treating musculoskeletal or somatic dysfunction. According to the American Osteopathic Association, the difference between an osteopath and an osteopathic physician is often confused. In the United States, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) are fully licensed medical physicians and surgeons, practicing in all clinical specialties along with their M.D. colleagues. Just like M.D.s, D.O.s practice the full scope of medicine.