Extracted from www.osteopathonline.com
Here are some good 'definitions'
of what Osteopathy is:
"Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment which emphasises
methods of recognising and alleviating structural and mechanical
problems of the body."
(Lord Walton, House of Lords, Second Reading of the
Osteopaths Bill, 27.5.93).
"Osteopathy is a distinctive health care profession, which facilitates
the realisation of healthy integrated functioning in the individual,
by restoring, sustaining and enhancing homoeostasis of the neuro~musculo~skeletal
system, evaluating and treating by palpation and manual intervention,
complemented by health education approaches. It recognises the
primacy of the therapeutic relationship and is based on principles
first enunciated by Andrew Taylor Still."
(The GCRO Competence Exercise Committee 1992).
"Osteopathic medicine is a philosophy of health care and a distinctive
art, supported by expanding scientific knowledge; its philosophy
embraces the concept of the unity of the living organism's structure
(anatomy) and function (physiology). Its art is the application
of the philosophy in the practice of medicine and surgery in all
its branches and specialties. Its science includes the behavioural,
chemical, physical, spiritual and biological knowledge related
to the establishment and maintenance of health as well as the
prevention and alleviation of disease."
Osteopathic concepts emphasise the following principles:
- The human person is a unit
in which structure, function, mind and spirit are mutually and
- The body, through a complex
equilibrium system, tends to be self-regulatory and self-healing
in the face of disease processes.
- Adequate function of body
systems depends upon the unimpeded circulatory mechanisms, nerve
impulses and neurotrophic influences.
- A rational treatment regimen
is based on this philosophy and these principles.
Osteopathic Association 1991).
"Osteopathy is a distinctive health care profession based on principles
first enunciated by AT Still, which facilitates the realisation
of healthy integrated functioning in the individual, both within
the body and the patient's relationships to his or her environment,
by restoring, sustaining and enhancing mechanical homoeostasis
of body tissues, with particular reference to the neuro~musculo~skeletal
system, by evaluating and treating with palpation and manual intervention
and complemented by health education."
(Mr N Handoll 1992).
"The aim of osteopathy is to correct problems in the body frame,
making it easier for the body to function normally and reducing
the chance of problems occurring in the future. In seeking to
maintain good health and prevent future problems, the osteopath's
plan may include advice on posture, diet, lifestyle and stress."
(Which? October 1993).
"Osteopathy is that science which consists of such exact, exhaustive
and verifiable knowledge of the structure and function of the
human mechanism, anatomical, physiological and psychological,
including the chemistry and physics of its known elements, as
has made discoverable certain organic laws and remedial resources,
within the body itself by which nature under the scientific treatment
peculiar to osteopathic practice, apart from all ordinary methods
of extraneous, artificial or medicinal stimulation, and in harmonious
accord with its own mechanical principles, molecular activities
and metabolic processes, may recover from displacements, disorganisation,
derangements and consequent disease
and regain its normal equilibrium of form and function in health
(Andrew Taylor Still Autobiography, 1st edition 1897).
Osteopathy is defined in the
General Council and Register of Osteopaths' leaflet, "Osteopathy
Your Questions Answered", as "The Science of human
mechanics". It is the system of diagnosis and treatment which lays
its main emphasis on the structural and mechanical problems of the
"The Osteopath is most concerned
with the body framework and how it is functioning."
The musculoskeletal system
is the largest system in the human body and is
constructed of muscles, bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and
numerous neurological components that coordinate the whole system.
The musculoskeletal system is what enables the human being to express
his or her thoughts and emotions. All other systems, it could be
said, exist merely to enable the continuing function of the musculoskeletal
system. The cardiovascular, digestive, circulatory, and neurological
systems enable optimal function and coordination for the movement
and operation of the musculoskeletal system.
Correct mechanical functioning of this system, therefore, is crucial
and this is where the purpose of the osteopath lies. They ensure
harmony and balance to minmise energy expenditure and wear and tear
of this system.
The British Medical Association,
in its 1993 Report "Complementary Medicine: New Approaches to Good
Practice (ISBN 0-19-286166-2), describes osteopathy as a 'discrete
clinical discipline'. It is, in fact, an established system of clinical
diagnosis and manual treatment in which a caring approach to the
patient and attention to individual needs are particularly important.
In particular, it is concerned with the inter-relationship between
the structure of the body and the way in which it functions and
is therefore an appropriate form of therapy for many problems affecting
the neuro-musculo-skeletal systems. However, osteopaths use a wide
variety of approaches to treatment and can
bring relief or improvement to many conditions affecting, for example,
children, the elderly, sportsmen and women, or to problems which
arise during or after pregnancy.
What is the difference between Osteopathy and Medicine?
Osteopathy and medicine have a lot in common. They use scientific
knowledge of anatomy and physiology. They both use clinical methods
of investigation. In this regard they have a common language.
Osteopaths willrecognise conditions that should be referred to a
Osteopathy differs from medicine, and therefore may be able to complement
it, in matters of evaluation of a patient and treatment. The evaluation
of the patient, when serious pathology has been ruled out, is concerned
with the way the person leads his life, the physical and psychological
stresses on the body, effects of trauma and aging on the body, and
the way the body is adjusting to (compensating for) these effects.
The treatment aims to improve circulation, reduce muscle spasm,
improve and maintain flexibility, maintain nerve supply, and restore
muscle and joint function and equilibrium. The treatment may consist
of massage techniques, manipulation of joints, adjustment of posture,
and health education. Underlying these differences is the basic
principle of osteopathy, namely that the body is a functional unit:
the inter-relationships between body systems are so extensive that
none can be considered in isolation. Improving one aspect is therefore
likely to improve other aspects. This is expressed in the osteopathic
principle that there is a reciprocity between structure and function.
Even where pathology is diagnosed, osteopathic treatment might work
well hand-in-hand with medicine.
A final difference is that the osteopath will spend time helping
the patient maintain a realistic level of health and avoid those
things that might occasion further ill-health.
What sort of conditions and problems do osteopaths
Osteopaths treat a wide range of conditions that occur in patients
as diverse as the smallest neo-nate to elderly people. While osteopaths
are perhaps best known to the general public as specialists in treating
disorders of musculoskeletal system, osteopathy is actually a complete
(holistic) primary healthcare discipline not just for bad backs
and stiff necks.