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Am Fam Physician. 2013;88(4):222

Original Article: Is Spinal Manipulation an Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain? Yes: Evidence Shows Benefit in Most Patients

Issue Date: April 15, 2012

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TO THE EDITOR: This editorial incorrectly used the term osteopath to refer to osteopathic physicians. The American Osteopathic Association states that the correct term for these physicians is doctor of osteopathic medicine. Physicians with doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degrees are fully credentialed, U.S.-trained physicians who undergo equivalent training as those with doctor of medicine (MD) degrees, but also learn a form of manual therapy known as osteopathic manipulative treatment.1 Osteopaths practice osteopathy, a separate profession from osteopathic medicine. They are not trained in the United States, and are not physicians.

IN REPLY: Mr. Kaufman is correct that it is current American Osteopathic Association policy to describe U.S.-trained doctors of osteopathic medicine as osteopathic physicians, because they are fully licensed and trained in manual medicine.1

That being said, the term osteopath has been the proper term for U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians for more than a century.2 Until 2010, most colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States awarded diplomas in osteopathy and called their graduates osteopaths upon graduation (myself included).2,3 A 2011 American Osteopathic Association resolution further states that the terms osteopath, osteopathy, and osteopathic should be advocated and protected for graduates who have these descriptors on their diplomas (as opposed to osteopathic physician and osteopathic medicine), and will always have historic and sentimental significance.3

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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