Treatment‎ > ‎


Definition and Scope of Osteopathy
In 1993 osteopathy became regulated as an official profession with the passing of the Osteopaths Act into English law. The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) is the regulator of osteopathy in the UK, and 'osteopath' is a protected title. 

Many people have redefined osteopathy since the founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, gave this original description in his 1908 autobiography:

"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, disorganizations, derangements, and consequent disease, and regained its normal equilibrium of form and function in health and strength."

Some of the more modern definitions are given below:

“Osteopathy is a system of medicine that emphasizes the theory that the body can make its own remedies, given normal structural relationships, environmental conditions, and nutrition. It differs from allopathy primarily in its greater attention to body mechanics and manipulative methods in diagnosis and therapy.”
World Health Organization (WHO) definitions document, p.43.
“Osteopathy is an established recognised system of healthcare which relies on manual contact for diagnosis and treatment. It respects the relationship of body, mind and spirit in health and disease; it lays emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body and the body's intrinsic tendency for self‐healing. Osteopathic treatment is viewed as a facilitative influence to encourage this self‐regulatory process. Pain and disability experienced by patients are viewed as resulting from a reciprocal relationship between the musculoskeletal and visceral components of a disease or strain.”
World Osteopathic Health Organization (WOHO) website, accessed 2008.

Osteopathic medicine is a primary contact healthcare profession which diagnoses and treats dysfunctions in the mobility of bodily tissues which affect the state of health.  
Osteopathic medicine promotes health, and aids recovery from and prevention of recurring symptoms, through its non‐surgical, drug free treatment. 
The Scope of Osteopathic Practice in Europe 2010 Draft. Working Group on Scope of Practice, European Federation of Osteopaths (EFO) and Forum for Osteopathic Regulation in Europe (FORE), 2010 (draft).

There are several models in osteopathy, including the Biomechanical, Neurological, Respiratory/ Circulatory and Bio-psychosocial. The Bioenergetic Model is of particular interest to the practice of cranial osteopathy, as it proposes that:

"the body seeks to maintain a balance between energy production, distribution, and expenditure. This aids in its ability to adapt to various stressors: immunological, nutritional, psychological, etc. Osteopathic treatment within this model would address somatic dysfunction, which has the potential to deregulate the production, distribution or expenditure of energy." 
The Scope of Osteopathic Practice in Europe. European Federation of Osteopaths (EFO), February 2012. See attached document.

Scope of Treatment
The European Steering Group on Scope of Practice in Osteopathy provide a general guide to the varied range of presenting complaints that patients might bring to their osteopath:

"Problems relating to the mechanical and nervous systems, such as pain, discomfort and impaired function of muscles and joints and their associated structures:
The Scope of Osteopathic Practice in Europe. European Federation of Osteopaths (EFO), February 2012. See attached document.

"Osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT, is hands-on care. It involves using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Using OMT, your osteopathic physician will move your muscles and joints using techniques including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.

"OMT can help people of all ages and backgrounds. The treatment can be used to ease pain, promote healing and increase overall mobility. OMT is often used to treat muscle pain. But it can also help patients with a number of other health problems such as:
"When appropriate, OMT can complement, and even replace, drugs or surgery. In this way, OMT brings an important dimension to standard medical care."
AOA Website, accessed 11th November 2014.

In the United Kingdom, the Advertising Standards Agency suggest that in general, osteopaths may only advertise treatment of patients for the following conditions unless they have evidence to prove that they have had significant success with these patients:
Registered with the General Osteopathic Council

Tom Greenfield,
11 Nov 2014, 08:09