Osteopathy was founded in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician. Dr Still focussed on improving circulation, and the position of the bones and organs to one another in the treatment of disease. He introduced the concept of treating the body as a whole in order to prevent disease. In 1917, an osteopath called Martin Littlejohn (a student of Dr Still’s) brought Osteopathy to Europe.
An osteopath diagnoses and treats the body. Osteopathy is different from physiotherapy and chiropractic care, although they all come under the same bracket of medicine and are very similar. However, how similar they are varies between each practitioner. Osteopaths generally spend more time with their patient, work more holistically (meaning they examine the whole body and not just the site of pain) so that they can ensure that an individual stays well long term. They also use an array of techniques to improve health. X-ray, shock wave and ultrasound machines are occasionally used in treatments, however chiropractic clinics more commonly use such machinery.
An osteopath will apply a variety of techniques including adjustments (clicking or cracking of joints) which are carried out in a safe manner after obtaining full consent. As well as osteopathic massage, muscle energy techniques (stretching) and joint mobilisation techniques which all aim at decreasing tension and improving stiffness. Visceral techniques (working on organs) are often used to improve their function. An osteopath may also provide exercise, postural, nutritional and naturopathic advice where necessary. Care is always taken to ensure a patient is comfortable with all techniques carried out. If not, other modalities can be used.