Osteopathy is form of manual therapy that believes that an optimal musculoskeletal system is integral to the physiological health processes of the body and vice versa. The founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still, coined this, ‘structure governs function’, which is one of the four osteopathic principles. Therefore a ‘whole’ body approach is the focus of an osteopathic treatment to help restore ideal health.
An osteopath will always do their best to address the cause of complaint, which may not always originate in the location of pain. Therefore, a thorough case history and examination is a vital part of the treatment process to be able to come to a working diagnosis and therefore implement the best course of treatment for each individual.
Osteopathy may help a variety of conditions such as acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, some examples being back pain, muscle spasm, arthritic pain, sciatic pain and general aches and pains, headaches arising from problems with the neck or jaw and prevention of migraine and digestive problems, just to name a few. Additionally osteopathy may potentially aid in management of fibromyalgia and helping with tension and inability to relax in general.
To become an osteopath, a 4-year full-time master’s program must be completed which includes a thorough understanding of anatomy, physiology and pathology, along with 2 years supervised clinical practice of at least 1000 hours. A final competence exam in which 3 examiners assesses the practical competency of an individual must be passed before they are able to practice as an osteopath. In addition, at the BCOM, a naturopathic diploma is also awarded of which learning consists of nutrition, lifestyle and stress management.
The General Osteopathic Council
In addition to successfully completing the degree, individuals wishing to practice osteopathy and call themselves an osteopath must by law be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). The GOsC was established under the Osteopaths Act (1993) to regulate and promote the profession, ensuring the highest standards of safety, proficiency and continued professional development are retained.