What is Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a holistic approach of manual medicine based on philosophical principles introduced by the founder of osteopathy Dr. A.T. Still.

These basic principles are:

  • Our body is a unique biological unit.
  • The body has the inherent ability to defend, heal, correct & regulate itself.
  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated. Any structural changes affect function and vice versa.

Another important concept of osteopathy is somatic dysfunction.

Somatic dysfunction is altered or impaired function of related components of the somatic system: skeletal with arthrovertebral, myofascial structures, and related vascular and neural elements.

It includes:

  • Tissue texture changes.
  • Asymmetry of structure.
  • Tenderness to palpation.

The goal of an osteopathic manual treatment is to restore the normal functioning of the affected areas of the body with somatic dysfunctions by stimulating a more appropriate healing process and interrelations between different systems of the human body (musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory, pulmonary, digestive system etc). The patient is assessed and treated as a whole unique unit.


Osteopathy was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., D.O. Dr. Still was the first who treated patients as a whole, searching for the causes of dysfunction rather the symptoms. Dr. Still founded the first school of osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.

The model that was created by A.T. Still and that which is currently taught in the USA was modified somewhat early on by J. Martin Littlejohn, M.D., D.O., to exclude Pharmacotherapeutics and Surgery and was carried to Europe and the rest of the world. The growth of Osteopathy since then has been tremendous and is currently practiced around the world, generally following the Littlejohn model.


Dr.Still, who practiced for many years as an orthodox physician, came to the conclusion that contemporary orthodox medical treatment of his day was unscientifically based, and was largely ineffective or at times outright harmful. He detected that the body's structure is reciprocally related to the way it functioned. He developed his treatments based upon his understanding of anatomy and physiology, using philosophical principles.

Dr. Still said:

"... Look upon the human body as an organization of laborers. The business of the operator is to keep peace and harmony throughout... It is a worthy Osteopath who realizes the great importance of this truth, and practices it..."