History of Osteopathy

Founder Andrew Taylor Still grew up in the American state of Virginia in a strongly religious home. He believed that all of creation was perfect, including the human body. He proclaimed that a perfect body would be able to heal itself and would contain within it the means to do so.

Manual Osteopaths use a variety of techniques to address imbalances in the body, from a whole-body perspective. This includes treating muscles, bones, joints and fascia through the soft tissues of the body to achieve and maintain structural balance and health.

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Manual Osteopathy is an effective solution to the many pains that one’s body experiences. The techniques used in a Manual Osteopathic treatment are done with great skill and precision to be the most effective in the least amount of recovery time and further discomfort to the patient.

The Manual Osteopathy has been practiced for centuries starting in Europe and migrating to North American medicine. It is believed that the body can be healed by returning it to a homeostatic state with highly specialized techniques taught from highly trained instructors.

Gently manipulation of the body’s tissues and fluids allow the therapist to achieve successful results in patients with chronic pain where other therapies and treatments have failed. It is not only a last resort for some, but rather the only option to traditional medications and treatments.

With an advanced understanding of how the body’s systems interact with each other, a Manual Osteopathic Practitioner is able to assess and correct with great accuracy and effective therapy, therefore  reducing the recovery time and instances of repeat visits for the same problems.

Treatment Modalities

Manual Osteopaths identify, assess, and treat the body’s structures and rhythms using a gentle, hands-on approach. This fundamental technique is called osteopathic palpation. Manual Osteopaths develop a very sensitive sense of touch to master osteopathic palpation. Osteopathic palpation is what makes Manual Osteopathy different from other forms of therapy.

Visceral Manipulation

Manual osteopaths use visceral manipulation to treat organs and viscera of the body, including the liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, pancreas, intestines, bladder and uterus. Patients may feel pain in one or more of these organs, or the viscera may be less pliable than it should be. Manual osteopaths gently move the structures themselves and the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds them to restore full movement.Most patients treated with visceral manipulation feel only the gentle pressure of the manual osteopath’s hand, but the corrections are powerful enough to improve the mobility of an organ, improve blood flow, and help the organ function more effectively.


Manual Osteopaths use this technique to reduce muscle spasms near a joint, ease neurological irritations around a joint, make joints more mobile and to reduce pain and discomfort.  The osteoarticular technique involves gently moving 2 joint surfaces.  Before doing this, manual osteopaths carefully prepare the soft tissues around the treatment area.  They also move the patient into a position that will minimize, or eliminate the energy and force needed to perform the manoever.  Many patients find this technique less forceful than joint manipulations.


This is a very gentle osteopathic technique, and it requires the most experience to use effectively. To learn this technique, Manual osteopaths undergo intensive training. Through this training, their hands become sensitive to the cranial mobility and develop great precision in utilizing cranial techniques. Manual osteopaths use this gentle technique to assess and treat the mobility of the skull and its contents. They may also use it to assess and treat the spine, the sacrum, and other parts of the body. The goal of this technique is to adjust the body’s physiology by restoring balance to the circulation of the blood and other body fluids. Manual osteopaths do this by treating the body’s inherent biorhythm. They are able to feel this rhythm in the patient’s head, spinal cord, and in the sacrum and the rest of the body. Manual osteopaths use the biorhythm to assess the patient’s condition, and they may modify it during treatment.

Advanced Fascia Release

The practitioner uses advanced fascia release in many different ways. In general, they use it to evaluate the condition of tissues and to help the body’s fluids (such as blood and lymphatic fluid) flow smoothly. Keeping fluids flowing smoothly reduces harmful fluid retention and makes the body’s immune system more effective. Fascia is tissue found in all parts of the body. It connects all of the body’s structures at both superficial and deep levels. Practitioners evaluate the fascia to find areas of restriction, and then use soft tissue manipulation to make sure the length and tension of the fascia are properly balanced. Throughout the treatment, manual osteopaths keep checking on the state of the body’s tissues. If one technique isn’t working to correct a restriction, they use another approach instead. Above all, manual osteopaths try to restore health without over-treating.

Types of Osteopathy

As Osteopathy developed, two distinct categories evolved: Medical Osteopath and Manual Osteopath.

Medical Osteopath

In Canada and the US osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical practice in both countries. Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs) are the only two types of complete physicians in North America. They are fully trained and licensed to order any required laboratory or diagnostic procedures, prescribe medication, perform surgery, deliver babies and may utilize their training as a prerequisite to specialize in other branches of medicine. There are currently 29 accredited Osteopathic Medical Schools in the US and none in Canada. These DOs are recognized as osteopathic physicians and are the only ones legally able to call themselves osteopaths.

Manual Osteopath

Generally anyone other than Osteopaths/Osteopathic Physicians (which are only those trained in accredited American schools) refer to themselves as one or more of the following: Manual Osteopath, Manual Osteopathic Therapist, or Osteopathic Manual Therapist.

Manual Osteopaths have advanced training in manual osteopathic practice, but they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication or perform surgery. They assess and treat patients using an osteopathic philosophy and manual osteopathic techniques. There are schools located throughout the world, including Canada.

Manual Osteopathic Accreditation

There are numerous colleges, universities, associations and regulating bodies for Manual Osteopaths worldwide, but there is no single, specific governing body or accreditation process for all. Some countries have a nationwide governing body including Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Manual Osteopathy and its schools are not regulated in any jurisdiction in Canada, although many associations are trying to establish standards of practice, codes of conduct and educational requirements for their members and the profession.

The training that our graduates receive are not equivalent to medical osteopaths, nor osteopathic practitioners, or to suggest that graduates would be eligible to become registered members of their provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons. This is not to say that some alumni may have additional training in this area.

Code of Ethics

As a governing body for Manual Osteopaths, the National Manual Osteopathic Society has established the highest standards of integrity and respect as described in their Cod of Ethics. These have been adopted by the NMOC in order to protect the professionals and clients across Canada.

NMOS Code of Ethics

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