What is Osteopathy?

The Basics


Osteopathy was founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, an American doctor, in the late 1800’s. It is a gentle, hands-on manual therapy, individualized for each patient and uses an extensive understanding of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and osteopathic philosophy.

Osteopathy focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework while also treating the impact of the visceral systems on the entire body structure. The aim of osteopathy is to positively affect the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems. 

Its Principles


Osteopathic treatment takes a whole-body, or 'holistic', approach to health care. This means that practitioners concentrate on more than simply treating the problematic area. Using manual techniques, they aim to balance all systems of the body to provide overall good health and well being, meaning you may come in for pain or dysfunction in one area but receive additional treatment in other areas of your body. This is because the underlying principle in Osteopathy is that all parts of the body function together in an integrated manner - if one part is restricted, then the rest of the body must adapt and compensate; it is this philosophy and thought process that set Osteopathy apart from other disciplines. 

The key principles are based upon the self-healing and self-regulating mechanisms of the body, which are impacted mechanically and physiologically through anatomy. By affecting the structure, Osteopaths can influence the function of physiological processes and help the innate self-healing and self-regulating mechanisms work better. For this reason, treatment with your practitioner may begin more frequently, but will eventually become more spaced out over time as your body is put into a better position to reach its optimal health. 

Helping Hands


Osteopaths treat more than you might think! Many patients come with concerns of aches in their back, neck, head, or feet; athletic or occupational injuries such as tennis elbow, shin splints, carpal tunnel syndrome, or repetitive strain injury; injuries from car accidents or slips, trips, and falls; or dysfunctions that affect the respiratory, digestive, urinary, nervous, or endocrine systems such as asthma, constipation, frequent urination, or sciatica. In most cases, Osteopaths can complement other services, such as advice or treatment given by your general physician, naturopathic doctor, or other manual therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, or massage therapy. 

As always, it’s important to notify your health care team that you will be receiving osteopathic treatment and discuss with your practitioner how osteopathy can help you achieve your health goals.  

The above infographic was made available from www.downtownwellness.ca