Frequently Asked Questions About Manual Osteopathy

Q: What is Manual Osteopathy?

A: Manual Osteopathy is a profession that uses manual diagnosis and manual treatment modalities that are based upon the principles defined by the founder of Osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. (OOA website)

Manual Osteopathy defined by Dr. Still:
It is a scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology in the hands of a person of intelligence and skill, who can apply that knowledge to the use of man when sick or wounded by strains, shocks, falls, or mechanical derangement or injury of any kind to the body. An up-to-date Manual Osteopath must have a masterful knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Curing diseases by skillful readjustment of the parts of the body that have been deranged by strains, falls, or any other cause that may have removed even a minute nerve from the normal, although not more than the thousandth of an inch. He sees cause in a slight anatomical deviation for the beginning of disease. (Andrew Taylor Still, 1902)

Manual Osteopathy has a rich history beginning in the USA with Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Dr. Still was a physician that realized basic fundamental principles were lacking in medical practice. After the death of his wife and children to illness, he embarked on a journey into functional anatomy and philosophy. After years of research and practice he coined the term Osteopathy and began teaching this new art and began teaching this new art and science in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri, USA at the American School of Osteopathy. The fundamental principles that he used to found Manual Osteopathy are (CAO-HHS):

  1. The body is a complete unit (mind, body, and spirit)
  2. Structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) are interrelated on all levels
  3. The body is self healing and self regulating
  4. Rational treatment is based upon these principles

Q: What is an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner?

A: Manual Osteopaths are educated and trained to work exclusively without the use of drugs or surgery by using manual methods for diagnosis and treatment. This is the predominant method of education worldwide outside of the USA and it is what is currently present in Canada. A Manual Osteopath in this context is different from an Osteopathic physician. (OOA website)

Q: What is an Osteopathic physician?

A: Osteopathic physicians are educated in schools of Osteopathic Medicine and are licensed and credentialed to an unrestricted scope of medical practice in the USA. This is the only country in the world offering a recognized medical degree in Osteopathic medicine. Most of these practitioners work in medical settings in much the same way as an M.D. does, practicing in almost all medical specialties. Additionally, these practitioners may be eligible for medical licensing in many countries outside the USA. (OOA website)

Q: How are Manual Osteopaths educated?

A: Manual Osteopaths have extensive education in all divisions of the human health sciences, Osteopathic philosophy, diagnosis, and manual treatment. The academic rigor is similar to those who hold medical degrees; however, the subjects are in keeping with the philosophy, science, and applications of Osteopathy. The format in which this occurs may vary, but the core content and competencies as required by the OOA are as follows:

Basic human science - Clinical science

  • Osteopathic science
  • Osteopathic clinical skills
  • Osteopathic manual treatment skills
  • Practical supervised clinical experience