What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy: “…a means of facilitating normal self-regulatory, self-healing mechanisms in the body by addressing areas of tissue strain, stress or dysfunction that may impede normal neural, vascular and biochemical mechanisms.” (World Health Organisation, 2010)

Many people think of Osteopaths as specialists in back, neck and shoulder conditions. In fact, osteopaths consider the whole individual – a holistic approach – in the belief that your whole body will function better if its structure is in good balance. For example: a cocktail of job stress, commuting, slumping on the sofa, accidents and surgery over a period of years can all combine to make the body feel under-powered and under-effective.  A person’s back pain or headaches can then make more sense if considered in the context of the body saying it’s lost its way trying to find the right balance.  As the body becomes more and more out of alignment, the brain is forced to develop alternative patterns of posture to maintain what it thinks ought to be an upright position.  However, without that inner compass, core muscle strength is lost, or a pattern of walking with a lurching tilt develops.

Treatment Aim and Structure

The aim of treatment is thus not just to sort the immediate problem - to calm inflamed areas, or take away tension - but also to restore better control of the longer-term issues that probably contributed to it and could do so again. These issues may be in a different part of the body – hence the holistic approach.  It might explain why people have found osteopathy helpful for all sorts of conditions. 

Your first visit includes taking a medical history  to make sure we understand your ‘musculoskeletal CV’.  You will be asked about your daily routines, diet, exercise and what life in general has thrown at your body, as these details contain the clues to your diagnosis.  Your standing and sitting posture will be observed and also what happens as you move your body, comparing that with what happens when it is moved .  Appropriate orthopaedic and neurological testing will also be carried out.

Osteopaths use techniques including deep tissue massage, joint mobilization and articulation to release tension, stretch muscles, and mobilise joints. This is our route to help relieve pain, using gentle techniques that work within the tolerances of your body, to find the right conditions that will encourage the healing process for the individual.

Osteopathy v Chiropractic

If all this sounds just like Chiropractic – it is. Chiropractic and Osteopathy hardly differ.  Around about the same time that Daniel Palmer was experimenting with skeletons another healer called Andrew Still was doing something pretty similar studying body structures, and not very far away; it’s just that he called his work osteopathy (meaning ‘bony problems’) as opposed to Palmer’s term for it, chiropractic (meaning ‘done by hand’).

Traditionally, osteopaths viewed the body principally as a fluid system of arteries and lymph vessels, which meant Osteopathy was about improving the blood supply.  Chiropractors saw the body principally as a network of nerves, so treatment was about adjusting spinal abnormalities via the nerve supply.  Actually you don't get one without the other: nerves have blood vessels of their own; and if you treat the spine you affect the nerve supply (sympathetic ganglia), the blood supply (spinal arteries), and the lymph system.  So the two professions are split by an illusory difference that doesn't actually exist, and their separate regulation and educational establishments serve only to perpetuate that illusion.

Nowadays what unites the two professions is stronger than what divides them. Somebody once said they’re just like the same book in different covers.  In truth, even within the same technique you can get variations between practitioners.


Like Chiropractors, Osteopaths study anatomy, physiology and musculoskeletal medicine over approximately five years. Having acquired that qualification we can then be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) which earns us the legal authority to use the title ‘Osteopath’.

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