Andrew Taylor Still, born in 1828 in Virginia, USA, trained as a doctor according to the system of medical education available at the time. As time went on he followed a different path from many of his peers, eschewing alcohol and the habit of contemporary physicians of administering crude drugs at their disposal in heroic quantities. This drove him to seek new methods of treating sickness. The outcome of his research was the application of physical treatment as a specialised form of treatment for which he coined the name
In 1892 A T Still organised a school in Kirksville in North America for the teaching of osteopathy and it was from these small beginnings that
Osteopathy was brought to the UK around the turn of the century. The first school of osteopathy in the UK was set in London in 1917 and over time other schools and colleges followed.
Osteopathy is an system of diagnosis and treatment, its main emphasis
is on the structural and functional integrity of the body. It is distinctive
in that it recognises that much of the pain and disability which people suffer stems from abnormalities in the function of the body structure as well as
the damage caused to it by disease and injury.
Back pain is the most common problem seen, however osteopathy can help with a wide varied of problems including changes to posture in pregnancy, babies with colic or sleeplessness, repetitive strain injury, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, children with glue ear, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries among many others. Leaflets explaining many of the common treatments used are available from the Osteopathic Information Service.
When visiting an osteopath for the first time a full case history will be taken
followed by an examination. You will normally be asked to remove some of your clothing and to perform a
series of movements. The osteopath will then use a highly developed sense of touch, called palpation, to identify any points of weakness or excessive strain throughout the body.
The osteopath may need additional investigations such as x-ray or blood tests. This will allow a full diagnosis and suitable treatment plan to be developed for you.
An average of 6 – 8 sessions or treatments can be expected
for most conditions treatable with Osteopathy.
Osteopaths work with their hands using a wide variety of treatment
techniques, including rhythmic passive joint mobilisation or the high velocity thrust techniques designed to improve mobility and the range of movement of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. This allows the body to return to efficient normal function.