Osteopathy uses conventional medical assessment and diagnosis to its own philosophy being that every part of the body is interconnected and interdependent, and that to function at its best, every part of the body should be free of movements and have a good circulation (blood and lymphatic) and nervous supply to and from the structure.
Osteopathic treatment does not target symptoms only, but treats the parts of the body that have caused the symptoms, based on the principle that well-being depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues all functioning smoothly together.
Training in osteopathy is essentially interdisciplinary and includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, biomechanics, pharmacology, clinical diagnosis, nutrition, naturopathy, gynaecology, paediatrics, exercise prescription and osteopathic techniques.
Osteopaths use their hands to apply a range of techniques to feel, diagnose and help reduce pain, increase joint and organ mobility, relieve muscle, ligaments and tendon tension and enhance the blood, lymphatic and nerve supply to tissues, helping the body’s own healing mechanism.
They may also provide advice on corrective postural exercises, lifestyle issues, diet and exercise regime.
"An Osteopath is only a human engineer who should understand all the laws governing his engine and thereby master disease" A.T. Still
Dr Andrew Taylor Still (1828 – 1917) was the first physician to recognise the relationship between the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the body. It is one of the main core principles of Osteopathy that structure and function are interdependent and that this reciprocal relationship is vital to physical and mental well-being of the human body.
The first school of osteopathy was established in London in 1917 by John Martin Littlejohn, a pupil of A.T. Still.
In the United Kingdom, osteopathy became a profession governed by statute in 1993. The governing body is the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and all osteopaths practising in the UK must be registered with them. This legislation now provides the profession of osteopathy the same legal framework of statutory self-regulation as other healthcare professions such as medicine and dentistry.
In 2017 Osteopathy was formally recognised by the National Health Service (NHS England) as an Allied Health Profession.