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Current Research: Integrative Medicine

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Jessica Wilson*
Editorial Office, Current Research : Integrative Medicine, Belgium, Email: editorintegrativemedicine@gmail.com
*Correspondence: Jessica Wilson, Editorial Office, Current Research : Integrative Medicine, Belgium, Email: editorintegrativemedicine@gmail.com

Received: 08-Jul-2023, Manuscript No. pulcrim-23-6594; Editor assigned: 12-Jul-2023, Pre QC No. pulcrim-23-6594 (PQ); Accepted Date: Jul 28, 2023; Reviewed: 19-Jul-2023 QC No. pulcrim-23-6594 (Q); Revised: 24-Jul-2023, Manuscript No. pulcrim-23-6594 (R); Published: 30-Jul-2023, DOI: 10.37532. pulcrim.23.8 (4) 56-58

Citation: Wilson.J. Osteopathy: a comprehensive review of principles,techniques, and evidence Curr. Res.: Integr. Med. 2023;8(4):56-58

This open-access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC BY-NC) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits reuse, distribution and reproduction of the article, provided that the original work is properly cited and the reuse is restricted to noncommercial purposes. For commercial reuse, contact reprints@pulsus.com


Osteopathy is a holistic healthcare approach that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. It encompasses a range of manual techniques aimed at restoring balance and promoting overall well-being. This comprehensive review explores the principles underlying osteopathy, delves into various treatment techniques employed by osteopaths, and examines the existing evidence supporting its efficacy in managing musculoskeletal conditions. By shedding light on the principles and practices of osteopathy, this review aims to provide a thorough understanding of this alternative therapeutic modality.

Key Words

Osteopathy; Integrative medicine; Holistic medicine


Osteopathy is a holistic healthcare approach that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal O disorders. It is based on the principle that the body has an innate ability to self-heal and maintains optimal health when given the right conditions. Osteopaths utilize manual techniques to address imbalances within the body, promoting overall well-being and restoring its natural state of equilibrium.

The roots of osteopathy can be traced back to the late 19th century when Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician, developed the principles that form the foundation of this therapeutic approach. Dr. Still believed that the musculoskeletal system plays a vital role in health and disease and that dysfunctions within this system can lead to a variety of ailments.The philosophy of osteopathy is grounded in the interconnection between the structure and function of the body. Osteopaths consider the musculoskeletal system as a key determinant of overall health, as it provides support, protection, and enables movement. They believe that any restriction or imbalance in the musculoskeletal system can disrupt the body's natural healing processes and contribute to various health issues. Osteopathic practitioners approach patient care with a comprehensive perspective, considering not only the specific symptoms or conditions presented but also the individual as a whole. They take into account various factors such as medical history, lifestyle, and environmental influences to understand the underlying causes of musculoskeletal dysfunctions.The treatment techniques used in osteopathy are primarily manual in nature and involve hands-on manipulation, mobilization, stretching, and soft tissue techniques. Osteopaths work with their patients to restore proper alignment, mobility, and balance within the body. Additionally, they may provide lifestyle advice, exercise recommendations, and promote preventive measures to support long-term well-being. Osteopathy has gained recognition and acceptance as a complementary therapy within the broader healthcare system. Many individuals seek osteopathic care for a range of conditions, including back pain, neck pain, joint disorders, sports injuries, and postural imbalances. Moreover, osteopathy is often utilized as a preventive measure to maintain musculoskeletal health and enhance overall wellness. In recent years, there has been an increasing body of research exploring the effectiveness and mechanisms of osteopathic treatment. Studies have investigated its impact on pain relief, functional improvement, and quality of life in various patient populations. The evidence supporting the efficacy of osteopathy is evolving and continues to contribute to its growing acceptance among healthcare professionals and the general public. This comprehensive review aims to explore the principles, techniques, and evidence surrounding osteopathy. By delving into the philosophy and practices of osteopathy, this review seeks to provide a deeper understanding of this alternative therapeutic modality and its potential benefits in managing musculoskeletal conditions.

Principles of osteopathy

Osteopathy is based on a set of core principles that guide its philosophy and practice. These principles form the foundation of the holistic approach adopted by osteopaths and provide a framework for understanding the body's interconnectedness and its inherent ability to self-regulate and heal. The following are the key principles of osteopathy:

1. The body's self-healing mechanism:

Osteopathy recognizes that the body has an innate ability to self-heal and maintain optimal health. Osteopaths view their role as facilitators in supporting and enhancing the body's natural healing processes. By identifying and addressing underlying dysfunctions, osteopathic treatment aims to remove obstacles to healing and create an environment conducive to self-repair.

2.Structure and function are interrelated:

Osteopaths understand that the structure and function of the body are intimately connected. They believe that the musculoskeletal system, including bones, muscles, ligaments, and fascia, plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health. Any restriction, misalignment, or dysfunction within this system can disrupt normal function and contribute to various health issues. By restoring balance and optimizing structural alignment, osteopaths aim to improve overall function and promote health.

3.The body is a unit:

Osteopathy views the body as a unified entity in which all systems and structures are interconnected. Rather than focusing solely on localized symptoms, osteopaths consider the body as a whole and seek to identify and address the underlying causes of dysfunction. They recognize that imbalances or dysfunctions in one part of the body can affect other areas, and therefore, their approach is comprehensive and holistic.

4.The role of circulation:

Osteopathy places great importance on the role of circulation in maintaining health. Adequate blood flow ensures the delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells to tissues while removing waste products and toxins. Osteopathic techniques aim to improve circulation by addressing restrictions or blockages within the circulatory system. By enhancing blood flow, the body's natural healing mechanisms are supported, and tissue function is optimized.

5.The nervous system's influence:

Osteopaths recognize the significant influence of the nervous system on the body's health and well-being. They understand that the nervous system coordinates and controls the body's functions, and any disruption or interference can impact overall health. Osteopathic treatment techniques aim to address nervous system imbalances, reduce neural tension, and restore proper nerve function, facilitating improved communication and coordination within the body.

Osteopathic assessment and diagnosis

Osteopaths employ a comprehensive approach to assess and diagnose musculoskeletal conditions. The assessment process involves gathering relevant information about the patient's medical history, conducting a thorough physical examination, and utilizing palpation skills to evaluate the body's structure, function, and tissue quality. By considering the whole person and their individual circumstances, osteopaths aim to identify the underlying causes of dysfunction and develop appropriate treatment plans. The following are key aspects of the osteopathic assessment and diagnosis process:

1. Medical history:

Osteopaths begin the assessment by gathering a detailed medical history from the patient. This includes information about their current symptoms, past injuries or surgeries, medical conditions, medications, and any relevant lifestyle factors. Understanding the patient's history provides valuable insights into the context of their condition and helps identify potential contributing factors.


Osteopaths perform a to assess the patient's musculoskeletal system and overall health. This may involve observing the patient's posture, gait, and movement patterns. Osteopaths also evaluate joint range of motion, muscle strength, and any specific functional tests relevant to the patient's condition. Special attention is given to identifying areas of restriction, asymmetry, or abnormal movement patterns that may be contributing to the patient's symptoms.

3.Palpation skills:

Palpation is a fundamental skill utilized by osteopaths during the assessment process. Through touch, osteopaths assess the texture, temperature, tension, and mobility of various tissues, such as muscles, fascia, ligaments, and joints. Palpation helps identify areas of tenderness, muscle imbalances, joint restrictions, and other subtle changes in tissue quality that may indicate dysfunction or pathology.

4.Functional assessment:

Osteopaths evaluate how the patient's condition affects their functional abilities and quality of life. This may involve assessing activities of daily living, work-related tasks, sports-specific movements, or any other functional tasks relevant to the patient's specific needs. Understanding functional limitations helps guide treatment planning and provides a baseline for measuring progress during subsequent sessions.

5.Diagnostic imaging and referrals:

In some cases, osteopaths may request diagnostic imaging, such as X-rays, MRI scans, or laboratory tests, to further investigate the patient's condition. These imaging studies can provide additional information about the underlying structures and aid in formulating an accurate diagnosis. Osteopaths may also refer patients to other healthcare professionals, such as radiologists, orthopedic specialists, or primary care physicians, for further evaluation or specialized interventions if deemed necessary.

Treatment approaches of osteopathy

Osteopathy utilizes a range of manual treatment approaches aimed at restoring balance, improving function, and promoting overall wellbeing. Osteopathic treatment techniques are hands-on and involve skilled manipulation, mobilization, stretching, and soft tissue techniques. These techniques target various tissues, including muscles, joints, fascia, and ligaments, to address imbalances, reduce restrictions, and optimize the body's natural healing processes. The following are some of the common treatment approaches used in osteopathy:

1. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT):

OMT is a cornerstone of osteopathic practice and encompasses a variety of hands-on techniques. These techniques involve applying precise and controlled forces to specific areas of the body to address dysfunctions and restore normal function. Examples of OMT techniques include:

• High-Velocity Low-Amplitude (HVLA) Thrust Technique: This technique involves a quick and targeted movement applied to a restricted joint to restore normal joint motion and alleviate pain.

• Soft Tissue Techniques: Various soft tissue techniques, such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and muscle energy techniques, are used to address muscle imbalances, release tension, and improve tissue mobility.

• Articulatory Techniques: These techniques involve rhythmic and gentle joint movements aimed at improving joint mobility, reducing restrictions, and enhancing fluidity of movement.


Mobilization techniques are gentle and controlled movements applied to joints and soft tissues to improve mobility and restore normal range of motion. Unlike highvelocity techniques, mobilization techniques involve slower and more sustained movements that aim to gradually reduce restrictions and increase joint flexibility.


Stretching techniques are used to increase the length and flexibility of muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Stretching can help alleviate muscle tightness, improve joint mobility, and restore proper muscle balance. Osteopaths may employ different stretching methods, including static stretching, dynamic stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching.

Osteopathy in clinical practice

Osteopathy is an established and recognized healthcare profession that plays a valuable role in clinical practice. Osteopaths work in a variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, multidisciplinary clinics, and sports medicine centers. Their role within the broader healthcare system is diverse, with a focus on musculoskeletal health and overall well-being. Here are some key aspects of osteopathy in clinical practice:

1. Patient-centered approach:

Osteopathy places great emphasis on patient-centered care. Osteopaths take the time to listen to their patients, understand their concerns, and develop a comprehensive understanding of their individual circumstances. This patient-centered approach allows osteopaths to tailor treatment plans to meet the specific needs, goals, and preferences of each individual.

2. Comprehensive assessment and diagnosis:

Osteopaths conduct thorough assessments to understand the underlying causes of a patient's condition. They gather relevant medical history, perform physical examinations, and utilize palpation skills to evaluate the structure, function, and tissue quality. This comprehensive assessment allows osteopaths to accurately diagnose musculoskeletal dysfunctions and formulate appropriate treatment plans.

3. Individualized treatment plans:

Based on the assessment findings, osteopaths develop individualized treatment plans for their patients. These treatment plans may include a combination of hands-on techniques, exercise recommendations, lifestyle modifications, and self-care strategies. Osteopaths consider the unique circumstances and goals of each patient, ensuring that the treatment approach is tailored to their specific needs.

4. Collaboration with other healthcare professionals:

Osteopaths often collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide integrated and comprehensive care to their patients. They work closely with physicians, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other healthcare practitioners to optimize patient outcomes. Collaboration and interdisciplinary communication contribute to a holistic and well-rounded approach to patient care.

5. Management of musculoskeletal conditions:

Osteopathy is particularly effective in managing a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Osteopaths treat acute and chronic pain conditions, postural imbalances, sports injuries, joint dysfunctions, and other musculoskeletal disorders. By addressing the underlying causes of these conditions, osteopaths aim to alleviate pain, improve function, and enhance overall well-being.


Osteopathy is a holistic healthcare approach that focuses on the musculoskeletal system's role in maintaining health and well-being. With its emphasis on patient-centered care, individualized treatment plans, and hands-on techniques, osteopathy offers a valuable therapeutic modality in managing musculoskeletal conditions. The principles of osteopathy, including the body's self-healing mechanism, interconnection between structure and function, and the importance of preventive care, guide osteopathic practice. Osteopaths conduct comprehensive assessments, utilize a range of manual techniques, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to optimize patient outcomes. While there is a growing body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of osteopathy, further research is needed to strengthen its scientific foundation and refine its clinical applications. Continued exploration of osteopathic principles, research into its mechanisms of action, and interdisciplinary collaboration can contribute to the ongoing development and integration of osteopathy within the broader healthcare system. Overall, osteopathy offers a patient-centered and holistic approach to healthcare, addressing not only the symptoms but also the underlying causes of musculoskeletal disorders. With its focus on restoring balance, improving function, and promoting overall well-being, osteopathy holds promise as a valuable therapeutic option for individuals seeking natural and comprehensive care.

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