Internal Medicine Doctor Ryan Levenhagen Discusses Natural Healing Techniques and Why More People are Choosing D.O.s

As told by Ryan Levenhagen, D.O.


Meet Dr. Levenhagen

We sat down with Dr. Ryan Levenhagen to learn more about his practice in Edgewater, the growing popularity of D.O.s and treating pain without prescribing opioids, whenever possible. 

Serving our community

Top Quotation MarksOur patient population here at The Breakers is pretty diverse, with a very wide range of different patients. It’s a very diverse neighborhood in general, both by age and cultural backgrounds. I see people from age 18 all the way up to 80’s or 90’s. At different points in life, everyone has a little bit of a different need from their health care. 

A lot of the clinics in this area are independent, but we have the resources of all of the specialists, imaging and surgical suites that Swedish Hospital has to offer, and it's a pretty easy  back and forth between our clinic here and the main hospital a few miles west on Foster Ave. Those additional resources are definitely something that this community benefits from.

Why more people are choosing D.O.s

Nowadays, there's not much of a difference between medical doctors (M.D.) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (D.O.). In the past, there was more of a distinction between the two in terms of practice style and their approach to medicine

In the last 15 or 20 years, D.O.s have become much more in vogue. I think some of that reflects the public's approach to health and medicine, which is generally trying to take a more holistic approach.

In my schooling as a D.O., we received all of the same allopathic training that M.D.'s do, but we also have extra coursework in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which is basically using our hands to diagnose and treat different musculoskeletal disorders. I think people are gravitating toward that.

Treating pain without opioids

I can understand why doctors prescribed these opioid medications for years. As a doctor, you’re just trying to help your patients feel better, but now we’re really seeing the ill effects of these medications. 

I came out of training with a very acute awareness of what the possible implications are of these medicines. That affects my practice because I'd never want to leave my patients in pain, but there are a lot of things that I will try to do before we get to opioids. If I prescribe these medications, it’s always very targeted, specific and as short of a course as possible. 

Osteopathic manipulative treatment can help with pain management too. There may be misalignments in the body that are contributing the pain. If we correct these, the chronic pain, while not completely eliminated, may become much more tolerable. 

Promoting natural healing with OMT

The interesting thing to me is using OMT for ailments that are not strictly musculoskeletal. If you’ve injured your lower back, I can stretch out the muscles or fix the alignment and usually make that feel better, but there’s more to it than that. 

Osteopathic techniques can also affect your breathing, blood flow and lymphatic flow. The lymphatics are an important system throughout your body that people often aren't familiar with. It helps move around fluids immune cells within the body, which is a big part of fighting infection and healing. 

These are less intuitive parts of osteopathic manipulative medicine, and that’s what I find the most interesting.

Meet Dr. Levenhagen
Ryan Levenhagen, D.O., is an internal medicine doctor with Swedish Medical Group. His clinical interests include geriatrics, musculoskeletal pains and preventive medicine

To make a primary care appointment with Dr. Levenhagen, call 773-293-8890.

By David Modica | Published August 23, 2018
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