Osteopathy is an approach to healthcare that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease.

In most countries, osteopathy falls in the realm of the allied health professions. Osteopathic practice emphasises a holistic approach and the skilled use of a range of manual and physical treatment interventions in the prevention and treatment of disease. In practice, this most commonly relates to musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain. Osteopathic principles teach that treatment of the musculoskeletal system (bones, soft tissue structures such as muscles, ligaments and tendons, and joints) facilitates the recuperative powers of the body.


The practice of osteopathy began in the United States in 1874. The term “osteopathy” was coined by Andrew Taylor Still. Still, a practicing medic, who lived and worked in Missouri at the time of the American Civil War. It was here he developed the practice of osteopathy, following his disaffection with the limitations and contradictions of medicine as practiced at that time.

Still named his new school of medicine “osteopathy,” reasoning that “the bone, osteon, was the starting point from which he was to ascertain the cause of pathological conditions.” Still founded the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University) in Kirksville, Missouri, for the teaching of osteopathy, in 1892.