What is osteopathy and why do we need it?

We now begin a series of articles on the very important topic of osteopathy, in the context of an overall goal of taking good care of our bodies and preventing – as well as recovering from – injuries and accidents.

As always, we feel it’s worth reiterating that osteopathy (and indeed other techniques such as pilates) should be viewed as complementary strands in a whole body approach which includes diet, exercise and general lifestyle.  Taking each one in isolation, or only doing one of them, will not deliver the required results as effectively as doing them all in conjunction.  This really is an example of the whole being very much greater than the sum of the parts!

So, back to osteopathy.  It is a powerful technique of detecting, treating and preventing some health problems by manipulating muscles and joints.  It is commonly used for helping with back pain, although it can be used to help with pain in other parts of the body too.

Let’s start with a brief look at the history of the technique.

The history of osteopathy

The practice of osteopathy began formally in the United States as long ago as 1874, when a surgeon and physician by the name of Andrew Taylor Still reasoned that the bone (“osteon”) was the best starting point to determine the cause of various pathological conditions.  He opened the American School of Osteopathy in 1892, and things developed quickly from there.

Here in the U.K., the first school of osteopathy was opened in London in 1917 by John martin Littlejohn, a former pupil of Still’s.

The practice grew and became widespread, but it wasn’t until 1993 that the profession was recognised by Parliament in the Osteopaths Act.  This provides the technique the same legal framework of statutory self-regulation as is found in medicine and dentistry for example.  Doctors can now refer patients to osteopaths for treatment with a corresponding transfer of clinical responsibility (although note that you don’t need a Doctor’s referral).

In a mark of how far osteopathy has come, qualifying courses are now part of the university system, with successful graduates becoming Masters (MOst), Bachelors (BOst), or Bachelors of Science (B.Sc) of Osteopathy or Osteopathic Medicine.

So what is osteopathy? 

It is a gentle hands-on approach, based upon the principle that the way the body moves will affect the way it functions.  The principle is that the wellbeing of an individual depends upon their bones, muscles, ligaments and connecting tissues all functioning harmoniously together.  Drugs and surgery are not used.

Here are some links that you may find useful:

  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
  • The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC)
  • The Institute of Osteopathy (Institute)
  • The N.H.S. (Osteopathy)

Next time

Having introduced the topic, in our next article we’ll go into detail on how it works – what an osteopath actually does and how the technique works – before moving on to cover the types of condition that it can help.

In the meantime,  click below if you would like more information on how our clinic can help

Osteopathy Clinic

or here for our home page

London Physiotherapy Clinic

or call us on 020 3199 6344 and we’ll be delighted to help you.