WHAT IS OSTEOPATHY
Osteopathy is a conservative and non-invasive form of diagnosis and management of
musculoskeletal conditions. We use palpation and diagnostic testing to assess the condition the
patient presents with, and then use a mixture of manipulation, mobilisations, tissue treatment and
stretching to help aid the body’s recovery.
Osteopaths have been regulated by statute since 1993 by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). A
recent study of 1,700 osteopathic patients found that 96% of patients were satisfied/very satisfied
with their care. Early findings taken from the National Council of Osteopathic Research also shows
high satisfaction and experience levels from osteopathic patients (Institute of Osteopathy, 2019).
Osteopathy is for all walks of life and can help with a much wider range of problems than a lot of
people expect. Below is a non-exhaustive list of the conditions that Osteopaths can treat from the
current evidence-base. This is approved by the ASA regulatory body.
Arthritic and rheumatic pain
General, acute and chronic back pain
Mechanical neck pain
Shoulder and elbow pain
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
Headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic) and migraine prevention
Joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core OA treatments and exercise
Generalised aches and pains
Minor sports injuries
Neuralgia (nerve pain)
Tension and inability to relax
The term Osteopathy was coined in the 19 th century by Andrew Taylor Still based on his
impression that ‘man is triune’ (Still, 1902). The word is derived from the Greek as a compound of
two words; ‘osteon’ meaning bone and ‘pathos’ meaning suffering or disease.
According to Still, the human body would only function correctly when the convergence of
the mind, body and spirit are working as a unit. His philosophy was that the osteopath is simply a
mechanic with a masterful knowledge of anatomy and physiology (Still, 1902).
By treating patients, he aimed to allow the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems to
function harmoniously together to help the body’s self-healing mechanism. When this balance is
disrupted, then the body can express this via musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Based on this,
he implies that the osteopath will not directly cure the ailment, but he will simply be the
intermediary between the patient and the body’s own natural self-healing process.