Osteopathic medicine (which is referred to as osteopathy when practiced by osteopaths trained outside the United States) is not a modality, but rather a system of healthcare. It considers the whole body and focuses on preventive care. The osteopathic concept is essentially that any observable alteration in the normal anatomy is a sign that disease is present and that correction of this abnormality would resolve or improve the disease's effects.
Thus, osteopathic medicine is first and foremost a philosophy. The manual approaches and techniques that are used in the application of this philosophy are extremely varied. There are really no "osteopathic techniques," but rather numerous manual approaches and techniques that were developed by osteopathis physicians and are applied from an osteopathic perspective. Generally, the free normal flow and actions of nerves, arteries, veins, lymphatics, and cerebrospinal fluid are addressed in an osteopathic evaluation and treatment.
A visit to an osteopathic physician (DO) can be much like a visit to a traditional MD, with some exceptions. Since DOs take a holistic approach to working with patients, a DO may ask the client about his or her physical condition and lifestyle. A hands-on physical examination is also conducted. One technique, Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), involves the use of the DO's hands to diagnose injury and illness, giving special attention to the joints, bones, muscles, and nerves.