What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy Artwork using the fingers of 15 hands

Over the years, osteopathy has become synonymous with the treatment of spinal pain. After all, back pain is common, and it affects daily life dramatically.

However, in reality, osteopathy also helps pain and dysfunction in other parts of the body. An osteopath is a generalist and not a specialist. We don’t treat just one thing because that would be entirely at odds with the way that an osteopath understand the human body and how it functions as an integrated whole.

Osteopathy is a system of manual medicine, which means we mainly treat with our hands. Developed in the early part of the 20th century, it helps dysfunction anywhere in the human body through a focus on the musculoskeletal system and its neurological, vascular and visceral interactions.

Seen as one of the various forms of manual (or manipulative) therapy, osteopath offers a lot more than this. Indeed, osteopathy is quite a ‘broad church’.

The profession was established by Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) in 1892 and has been practised in the UK since 1917.

In 1993 the Osteopaths Act was passed, making it a criminal offence for someone to call themselves an osteopath unless registered with the General Osteopathic Council. The register came into being in May 2000.