General Osteopathic CouncilOsteopathy - The Muscular SystemOsteopathy Treatment room

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation primarily of musculoskeletal disorders. Using many of the diagnostic procedures applied in conventional medical assessment, osteopaths seek to restore the optimal functioning of the body and aid its intrinsic ability to heal. Following a detailed case history and examination, treatment is based on mobilising massage and manipulative techniques, reinforced by guidance on lifestyle, environment, posture and exercise.


At present at undergraduate level, a four to five year integrated Masters Degree in Osteopathy (M.Ost) programme with extensive clinical training from the outset. Osteopaths are committed to lifelong learning through a system of mandatory Continuing Professional Development.

Why Osteopathy?

Osteopaths are statutorily regulated health professionals and form an integral part of primary care teams. GPs can safely refer patients to an osteopath — guidelines are published by the General Medical Council and British Medical Association.

What Conditions?

A wide range of musculoskeletal disorders respond especially well to osteopathic treatment.

Osteopathy offers a timely, cost-effective healthcare service through:

  • Prevention
  • Early intervention
  • Active recovery
  • Enhancing quality of life

There are currently approximately 4,000 osteopaths registered in the UK, seeing an estimated 25,000 patients a day.

A recent Medical Research Council trial comparing treatment options for lower back pain (UK BEAM Trial), found that osteopathic spinal manipulation, added to GP care, is clinically effective and the most cost-efficient option for patients in the UK.

Orthopaedic and osteopathic tests

Your first visit:

Osteopaths consider each person as an individual. On your first visit, the osteopath will spend time taking a detailed medical history including important information about your lifestyle and environment. You will normally be asked to undress to your underwear and perform a few simple movements. A series of orthopaedic, neurological and osteopathic tests may then be carried out. This will allow a full diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Using their hands, osteopaths identify any abnormalities of the human structure and function. They then facilitate the body's ability to heal itself through a variety of stretching, mobilizing and manipulative techniques. With health advice including specifically advice on lifestyle and environment as well as exercise, osteopaths help to reduce the symptoms and improve your condition, health and quality of life.

Your osteopath should make you feel at ease and communicate what he or she is doing. Do ask questions at anytime during your consultation if you are unsure.

Osteopathy Treatment