We often get questions from new or potential clients over the phone about what Osteopathy is and what to expect during osteopathic treatments. In this article we focus on the difference between the U.S. and Canadian trained Osteopaths. 

Osteopathy was named by the founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. In 1892 he opened a school where he began teaching Osteopathy principles and treatment. To this day, there are over 22 countries teaching Osteopathy and over 75,000 Osteopaths worldwide.  Every country has its own regulations in terms of what we are and are not allowed to do during a session like a spine manipulation or medication prescription. 

Osteopathy in Canada

In Canada, you may encounter a few different names and titles: Doctor of Osteopathy ( DO ), Osteopathic Physician ( DO ), Manual Osteopath ( DOMP or D.O.M.P ) or Osteopathic Practitioner ( DOMP or D.O.M.P ). To make it a little easier, Manual Osteopath and Osteopathic practitioners are exactly the same professions, just different names. The same applies to doctors of Osteopathy and Osteopathic physicians.  Recently, some associations started to use RMO or ROMP that stands for Registered Osteopathic Manual Practitioner. Same education, just a different title. 

Who can use DO title?

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Both American osteopathic physicians and European osteopaths call themselves DOs. American practitioners are Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine unlike European practitioners, who have a Diploma in Osteopathy. Therefore, it can create some confusion regarding the difference between U.S osteopathic physicians and osteopaths trained in other countries.

The main difference is education and scope of practice. Osteopathic physicians / Doctors of Osteopathy, as the name indicates, are medical doctors. They are trained in the USA and they can prescribe drugs, perform surgery, deliver babies, and have the prerequisites to specialize in other branches of medicine.  There are currently 29 accredited Osteopathic Medical Schools in the US and none in Canada. These DOs are recognized as a physicians and are the only ones legally able to call themselves Osteopaths. Doctors of Osteopathy is a restricted title to those belonging to the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons.

Who are Manual Osteopaths / Osteopathic Practitioners?

 As I have mentioned above, these two titles represent the same profession with the same scope of practice. Manual Osteopaths /Osteopathic Practitioners use the title DOMP, which stands for Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice. We do hands-on techniques designed to alleviate tension and improve circulation. Compare to Chiropractors or Physiotherapists, we tend to have a more holistic approach – we aim to treat the root of the problem, not just the area of the pain. Osteopathic Practitioner would use a variety of techniques to help restore the body back to its optimal state such as Cranial Sacral Therapy ( focus on cerebro spinal fluid, sacrum and cranial bones ), Visceral Manipulation ( gentle pressure through the abdominal area to treat internal organs ), Soft Tissue Therapy ( direct or indirect techniques on muscles, fascia and other soft tissue ) and Joint Mobilization ( improving and /or restoring range of motion in joints through mobilization where gentle pressure is applied.

Are sessions from DO and DOMP the same?

 According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians practise the entire scope of modern medicine, bringing a patient-centred, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury. U.S. DOs can choose any specialty, prescribe drugs, perform surgeries, and practise medicine anywhere in 

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the United States. They bring the additional benefits of manipulative techniques to diagnose and treat patients.

Both U.S. DO and DOMP are trained in biomechanical, neuromuscular, and orthopedic assessments to more specifically identify musculoskeletal conditions. U.S. trained DOs are allowed to provide a medical diagnosis of the client’s condition, prescribe medication and  apply high-velocity force for joint manipulation. In Canada, DOMP’s are not allowed to diagnose, prescribe any medication and provide joint manipulation as Chiropractors do. Instead of manipulation, we use mobilization that involves less pressure and is gentler.



  1. https://www.aacom.org/become-a-doctor/about-osteopathic-medicine/the-difference-between-u-s–trained-osteopathic-physicians-and-osteopaths-trained-abroad-
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/70381#benefit
  3. https://nmos.ca/regulation-licensure/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-an-osteopath#osteopath-vs-naturopath

Learn more about Osteopathy at Active Therapy Clinic in North Vancouver