Osteopathy is a manual method of therapy in which the healer will palpate and manually manipulate the muscoskeletal system, mainly the bones and joints. It is a form of complementary treatment in which the role of the muscoskeletal system is emphasized in understanding disease and curing it. Osteopathy is a non-drug, non-invasive technique that involves clinical diagnosis and manual treatment and relies on the self-healing abilities of the body. A caring approach to the patient and attention to individual needs are of primary importance. Osteopathy is concerned with the inter-relationship between the structure of the body and the way in which it functions and is an appropriate form of therapy for many problems affecting the neuro-musculo-skeletal systems. When the body is balanced and efficient it functions with minimum wear and tear. An osteopath mainly uses the method of palpation for detecting and treating damaged parts of the body such as muscles, ligaments, nerves and joints.
 Some of the conditions which osteopathy can help relieve
- back pain
- arthritic pain
- repetitive strain injury
- shoulder and neck pains
- sleeping difficulties
- irritable bowel syndrome
- sports injury
- postural problems caused by pregnancy, driving or work strain
- joint pain, muscular aches, pains and strains
- tennis elbow
- asthma and respiratory problems
- colic and sleeplessness in babies
The practice of osteopathy is believed to have begun in the United States in 1874. The term "osteopathy" was coined by Andrew Taylor Still, a trained physician. The word “Osteopathy” comes from “osteon” meaning “the bone” as Andrew Still believed that the bones were the starting points from which the causes of pathological conditions can be ascertained.
Andrew Still postulated that disease was caused when bones were out of place. This disrupted the flow of blood or the flow of nervous impulses. He concluded that one could cure diseases by manipulating bones to restore the interrupted flow. Osteopathy treats the body as one unit in which the structure and function are inter-related. The body has inherent capacities to cure itself. When these capacities are inhibited disease occurs. Osteopathy is intricately linked with the discipline of anatomy. The philosophy of osteopathy involves an understanding of the integration between body and mind, the interrelatedness of structure and function, and the ability of the body to heal itself when mechanically sound. It focuses on the mucoskeletal system as an integral part of the processes of health and disease.
 Basic tenets
The basic premise on which osteopathy is based is that the healing abilities of the body are unimpeded if the body is able to circulate all of its fluids. These fluids include all those fluids that are present inside or outside the cells of the body, that is, blood, lymph, axoplasm, synovial fluid, mucous, digestive juices, etc. These fluids act as the transporters in the body. They carry the life-sustaining and the nutritional materials to the various parts of the body. These materials include hormones, enzymes, oxygen, minerals, antibodies, neural agents, etc.
If there is any obstruction to these flows they affect the body adversely, and are therefore, the key concerns of osteopathy. These obstructions may be structural, for example, twisting of muscles or the misalignment of bones. Or the obstructions may be non-structural, such as emotional patterns that affect the body, like the tendency to hold one’s breath as a response to stress.
Palpation is an integral part of osteopathy. An osteopath uses the diagnostic skill to “listen” to the state of the tissue of the organ being examined. For a trained osteopath palpation involves the ability to detect changes in temperature, texture and movement. These perceptions provide the osteopath with hints to the condition of not only the superficial organs but also the internal organs. The qualities of a tissue that an osteopath can distinguish include stiffness, dehydration, scarring, etc. The detection of the minute modifications in the quality of tissues allows an osteopath to chart out the treatment.
The length of a session of Osteopathy varies from ailment to ailment. On one hand however, it is impossible to treat in less than a half hour. On the other hand, the body will reject being manipulated and mobilized for more than 90 minutes
- British Osteopathic Association
- Canadian College of Osteopathy
- American Academy of Osteopathy