Osteopathy has grown rapidly as a profession in Australia over the last few years. But what is Osteopathy and where did Osteopathy come from?

Physician and surgeon Andrew Taylor Still in Kirksville, Missouri founded Osteopathy in the late 1800s. The son of a surgeon and Baptist minister Still believed there was more to health than surgery or medicine. Through his study of anatomy and physiology Still postulated a new idea around health and healing. He reasoned that disease could have its origins in slight anatomical deviation from normal. Health therefore could be achieved if all parts of the body worked together harmoniously.

He put his ideas and new therapy to practice and discovered that he could restore health to many people through treating their body with his hands. He then named his innovative approach to restoring health: Osteopathy.

His goal was to restore the body to optimum health with minimal surgery and medicine.”

Over time he treated patients with a wide range of conditions, from dysentery to sciatica and arthritis, and gained a reputation as an effective practitioner. Patients from all over America flocked to Kirksville for treatment. Soon demand was so high, boarding houses were built and train routes were altered to cater for the number of people seeking treatment.

Still continued to investigate the human condition and started to teach others what he had learnt. He developed 4 foundational principles of Osteopathic care.

  1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.

In other words, the knee bone is connected to the hip bone which is connected to the, lymphatic, blood and nervous system.  One area will affect another and when assessing and treating the human body one must consider the whole person.

  1. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.

We all have a God given ability to heal. Medication, surgery and manual therapy would be of no value without it. However, sometimes our body is compromised, overwhelmed or functioning at less than optimal and needs some assistance in restoring harmony or balance.

  1. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.

The best way to explain this is if we picture a house. If the foundation of the house is off set, the house will not function very well. Its doors will not open, the walls might collapse and it will not function well.  Alternatively, a poor functioning door in a house can damage a wall and affect its structure. Thus, the structure or function of the body are the same. They are interrelated and need to be addressed simultaneously to correct any problems experienced.

  1. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.

For comprehensive and holistic care, all these principles need to be considered and utilised in the overall management and treatment provided.  A treatment regime is not effective if we do not allow these principles to guide our approach to care as Osteopaths.


Osteopathic principles are ultimately what differentiate us from all other health professions. I remember when I first heard the foundation of this profession, it resonated so much with my beliefs that I changed all my university preferences to Osteopathy. If this philosophy and health approach also resonates with you, why not give Osteopathy a go.

Written By Simon Ashley.

Learn more about ATUNE Osteopathy Here.


Reference: Australian Osteopathic Association