What is Osteopathy? It's not just backs!

Osteopathy is a primary healthcare system, which can be used independently or in conjunction with other medical practitioners.   Osteopaths use a hands-on approach to examine and treat the structural integrity of the musculoskeletal system to enable a safe and natural healing process and to promote overall health and wellbeing. It is most commonly used for muscle and joint aches and pains, minor sports injuries, repetitive strain injuries and headaches. 

It is suitable for most people and definitely for all ages, including babies, children and pregnant women and can help to alleviate a wide range of conditions. It is a common misconception that osteopathy ‘just does backs’. 

Primarily osteopathy is concerned with the structural integrity of the musculoskeletal system and how this affects and is affected by the internal organs, the nervous system and the circulatory system. 

If the structure is balanced, then like a well-tuned engine, it functions with minimal wear and tear and uses its energy efficiently. However, as clever as the body is in its ability to adapt, the stresses and strains of daily life can sometimes upset this balance. Physical strains (injury, poor posture, lack of exercise, repetitive actions), emotional stresses (work an home) and chemical imbalance (poor diet, drugs, pollutants) can lead to a wide range of symptoms that may express themselves through the musculoskeletal system or be affected by treatment to it. 

Another important principle of osteopathy is that the body has its own self-healing mechanisms – its own ‘medicine chest’. The role of the osteopath therefore is to normalise the musculoskeletal system, mainly by working on the muscles and joints, in order to improve circulation and nerve communication between all the systems of the body and thus allow these mechanisms to do their job and bring the body back to health. 


Osteopathy was founded in America in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) and was brought to Great Britain in the early 1900s. 

Britain’s first school, The British School of Osteopathy (BSO), now known as the University College of Osteopathy (UCO) was opened in London in 1917 by John Martin Littlejohn, a student of Stills

For a more detailed history click here

Who are osteopaths?