“It is most necessary to know the nature of the spine, what its natural purposes are, for such knowledge will be requisite for many diseases.”
The general public usually associate the term “osteopathy” with a system of manipulation directed to the towards the treatment of aches and pains in the spine, muscles and joints, the framework of the body known as the musculoskeletal system. Since the musculoskeletal system represents sixty per cent of the entire body mass, it is not surprising that osteopaths emphasise its importance in both health and disease. This is not to say that all diseases are caused by musculoskeletal problems: disease is usually the result of multiple factors, in which the musculoskeletal system is often involved.
Osteopathy was established in 1876 as an alternative system of medicine by an American physician, Dr Andrew Taylor Still. After suffering the harrowing experience of losing three of his sons to a meningitis outbreak, Still set out to discover what happened to the body when it succumbed to an illness.
As an engineer, he began by observing the bodies mechanical functioning and eventually came to the belief, which is one that sustains osteopathy to this day, that the structure of the body governs its function.
Most osteopaths of today would regard osteopathic treatment as complimentary to modern medical practice and a wish to work in close cooperation with GPs, hospital consultants and many other complimentary practitioners for the benefit of the health of their patients.