Osteopathy is a drug-free, non-invasive manual therapy that aims to improve health across all body systems by manipulating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework.

The practice of osteopathy began in the U S in 1874. The term ‘osteopathy’ was coined by Andrew T. Still, a physician and surgeon with a holistic view of health who began practicing manipulative procedures that were intended to restore harmony in the body. He established The American School of Osteopathy (ASO) in 1892, in Kirksville, Missouri which is now known as the AT Still University. John M. Littlejohn (1865-1947), a Church of Scotland Minister who had been sent to the US to find a climate more conducive to his health, studied at the ASO and after qualifying returned to the UK and established the British School of Osteopathy (BSO) in 1917 in London.

Main principles

Osteopaths use physical manipulation, stretching and massage with the aim of increasing the mobility of joints, relieving muscle tension, enhancing the blood supply to tissues and helping the body to heal. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.


Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, mainly involving the bones and joints of the skeleton including back pain, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and minor sports injuries.


The Institute of Osteopathy (iO) is the UK's leading professional membership organisation for osteopaths.

All osteopaths in the UK are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC).

Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions mainly involving the bones and joints.