Osteopathy is the science of human mechanics. It is a safe and natural manual therapy, which consists of a “hands-on” approach to help your body adapt to the environment around you. The developed sense of touch is an osteopath’s main tool to make a diagnosis and treat mechanical problems affecting any part of the body.
Osteopaths seek to offer pain relief, rehabilitate injuries and promote health in a natural way by restoring the balance within the body and hence creating the perfect conditions to facilitate healing.
Osteopaths have an excellent understanding of the human body, its anatomy, physiology and pathology. This knowledge allows the osteopath to clinically screen, diagnose and treat patients, encouraging the body’s self-healing mechanisms.
History of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) is considered the father of osteopathic medicine.
After studying medicine, Still went on to serve as a surgeon in the Union Army during the American Civil War. After the Civil War and following the death of three of his children from spinal meningitis, Still concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were frequently ineffective and sometimes harmful. He devoted the next ten years of his life to studying the human body and finding better ways to treat disease.
His research led him to believe that the musculoskeletal system played a vital role in health and disease. Still believed that by correcting problems in the body’s structure, through the use of manual techniques now known as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), the body’s ability to function and to heal itself could be greatly improved. He also promoted the idea of preventive medicine and endorsed the philosophy that physicians should focus on finding patients’ optimum health, rather than just the disease.
Still was also particularly interested in human mechanics and was often found studying bones to try to understand where the different strains and stresses came from.
Still obtained extremely good results by treating his patients with this approach and these beliefs formed the basis of a new medical approach, osteopathic medicine. He soon realised that his knowledge should be shared and founded the first school of osteopathy — the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.
John Martin Littlejohn studied with A. T. Still in Kirksville. He then returned to the UK where he founded the British School of Osteopathy in 1917.
Today, osteopathy is a regulated profession in the UK. The title ‘osteopath’ is protected by law and only people that undergo rigorous clinic training for 4-5 years and satisfy the requirements set by The General Osteopathic Council can call themselves an ‘osteopath’.