About Osteopathy


Client receiving osteopathy treatmentWhat is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.  It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.”
Source: General Osteopathic Council (GOsC ) website, 2011.


What sort of problems do Osteopaths Treat ?


Osteopathy was initially used to help prevent disease. These days many patients see an osteopath mainly to help ease their back pain (which we are very good at doing) but we can also treat so much more. The following list is just a sample of the symptoms and conditions that osteopathy can treat:



  • This list is not exhaustive and there are many other conditions that osteopaths can address. Please contact us to find out more.

“To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also work well.  So osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.  Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanisms.  They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.”
Source: General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) website, 2011.

History of Osteopathy

Osteopathic medicine was founded in 1874 by an American doctor and mechanic called Andrew Taylor-Still. At this time orthodox medicine had little to offer. For example it was suggested that vinegar had some power to modify the eruption of smallpox and that skin cancer could be treated with arsenical paste. In 1864 three of Still’s children developed meningitis and despite getting all the care medicine could give they died. This shattered his faith in drugs. For ten years he studied the anatomy of the body. In 1874 he formulated his ideas of health and disease and called it Osteopathy.


He had an artistic way of writing, in a quote taken from his autobiography he said ‘I took the position in 1874 that the living blood swarmed with health corpuscles which were carried to all parts of the body. Interfere with that current of blood and you steam down the river of life and land in the ocean of death.’


This style of writing did not endear him to the medics and in the light of modern knowledge we know that many of his ideas were wrong just as practises in medicine have also changed as advances in knowledge teach us how to treat illness more effectively.


Still claimed that Osteopathy was a complete system of healing – apart from surgery and midwifery – and treated everything from dysentery to hip dislocation by manipulating the spine. Osteopathy has changed a lot from then but the basic belief, if a structural fault is present it will have a detrimental effect on how a structure can work and this can lead to injury or disease in that structure or an associated structure, has not changed.  The term ‘Structure governs function’ is referred to often by Osteopaths and is what a lot of treatment is based on.


The aim of Osteopathy


The harmony and efficiency of the body is adversely affected by structural and mechanical abnormalities. Disease can sometimes follow if these faults persist. The body will constantly try to restore health to prevent disease. It will adapt itself and its structure around a faulty alignment in order to function as efficiently as possible.

The aim of Osteopathy is to help nature as much as possible by realigning the body structure and removing any mechanical hindrance to efficient body function.

Structure Governs function

How do faults in our skeletal structure have a negative effect on how our body functions?

Mechanical disturbances can adversely affect the body by:

  • Pressure on a nerve which causes the nerve to send incorrect information to the part of the body it supplies.
  • Pressure or blocking of blood vessels which will cause congestion or ischemia (lack of blood).
  • Stretching or compression on organs which will disturb the way they can work.
  • Abnormal strain on joints (e.g. from poor posture) leads to weakness or tearing of ligaments or damage to cartilage.
  • Incorrect use of muscles can lead to them becoming too weak or to get to big and not work in harmony with other muscles.

By trying to correct these mechanical disturbances the Osteopath allows the body to repair. If the faults are irreversible the Osteopath will help the body to compensate mechanically to the changes.


Cranial Osteopathy


skullCranial Osteopathy is a gentle and effective way of feeling and treating stresses and tensions that disrupt the harmony of the body.

It is a common belief that the skull is a rigid structure, but evidence from 'Pritchard et al' showed conclusively that motion is possible.

The 29 cranial bones develop zigzag edges which dovetail together permitting a very slight degree of mobility.

This articular mobility can be picked and recorded electronically.

The movement of fluids, blood and cerebral spinal fluid, through the brain and cranium and the effect this has on the membranes (meninges) attaching to the inner surface of the cranium and enclosing the brain, can all be felt.

A cranial Osteopath is trained to feel the very subtle rhythmical shape change that occurs in the cranium and is present in all the body tissues.

Tension and injury can disrupt this rhythm. The Osteopath compares your rhythm to what they consider is an ideal rhythm then release the retained strains to restore harmony to the tissues of the body.

The skull of a newborn consists of thin, flexible plates of membrane or cartilage. The head literally is squeezed through the birth canal. It is not surprising that some babies get birth strains that stress the body. Cranial Osteopathy is used to treat such babies.



Pritchard, J.J, Scott,j,Griggs,F;The Structure and Development of the cranial and facial structures.- Journal of Anatomy, 90;73-86, part 1. Cambridge University Press January 1956