What is Osteopathy and why I love it

What is Osteopathy and why I love it by        Tony Antoniou (Osteopath)   Osteopaths treat a range of symptoms, helping to alleviate discomfort and restore function. This can be achieved with a variety of hands-on techniques, exercise prescription and lifestyle advice. According to NHS (2020), “Osteopaths use a number of non-invasive treatments such as touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to restore bodily equilibrium through increasing the mobility of joints, relieving muscle tension, enhancing blood and nerve supply to tissues, and encouraging an individual’s own healing mechanisms.”

Osteopathy really is both a science and an art, and it is the combination of rigorous medical training and the development of manual skills that provoked me to gravitate towards it as career. Being a part of the process that contributes towards helping patients achieve their goals and get back to doing what they value is what makes this job worthwhile for me. I enjoy both interacting with patients in the clinic and taking time to review the relevant theory, to better inform my practice.

Osteopathy over time:

Influenced by the knowledge that medical interventions of his time were largely unsuccessful, physician and surgeon, Andrew Taylor (AT) Still sought to discover non-surgical and non-medicinal methods to enhance the body’s natural ability to heal itself. He created the name ‘Osteopathy’ by combining two Greek roots; ‘osteon’ for bone, and ‘pathos’ for suffering (Parsons et al, 2005, p.7).

AT Still took on his first group of students at the American School of Osteopathy (IO,  2018).

John Martin Littlejohn, an early student of Still, established the Chicago College of Osteopathy (IO, 2018).

Littlejohn helped found the British School of Osteopathy, now University College of Osteopathy and the Journal of Osteopathy, which assisted with laying the foundations for the profession in Europe (IO, 2018).

Establishment of the London College of Osteopathic Medicine (LCOM), which trained the first British Osteopaths to start practice (IO, 2018).

Osteopaths Act 1993
This led to the establishment of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and register opening in 1998. As with other medical occupations, Osteopathy is subject to statutory regulations, and qualified practitioners must first register with GOsC to practise.

Osteopaths are now considered Allied Healthcare Professionals (AHPs), along with Physiotherapists, Paramedics, Radiographers, Dieticians and such like (NHS, 2020). Growing numbers of universities and colleges are becoming accredited to support Osteopathic colleges or teach Osteopathy (GOsC, 2020; IO, 2018).


GOsC. (2020) Training and registration. Available at: https://www.osteopathy.org.uk/training-and-registering/becoming-an-osteopath/training-courses/  

IO. (2018) History of Osteopathy. Available at: http://www.osteopathy.org/osteopathy/history-of-osteopathy/   NHS. (2020) Allied Health Professions. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/ahp/role/#osteo

Parsons, J., Marcer, N., and Williams, A. (2005) Osteopathy: Models for diagnosis, treatment and practice: Edition 2. United Kingdom: Elsevier Health Sciences