Osteopathy - Southamtpon

Osteopathic Philosophy

A snap shot of osteopathic philosophy scope of care – by Southampton Osteopath Laura

Osteopathy was developed in the 1870’s arriving in Britain in the early 1900’s. It was developed by A.T Still, a man who had become disillusioned with mainstream medicine.

Many people think osteopaths only treat the spine or the bones of the body however, this is not the case. A.T Still wanted osteopathy to replace and reform mainstream medicine. He wanted osteopaths to treat the same illnesses and conditions that people visit the doctor for.

Osteopaths consider the body to be self-healing and self -regulating. In today’s modern medicine Doctors and medics also recognise this and call it homeostasis.

When the body does not self regulate and self heal it becomes ill. The difference between Doctors and osteopaths is how they deal with illness.

Doctors direct treatment to control the disease. Whereas osteopaths seek to establish what has impaired self-healing to allow the disease to develop in the first place. These two very different approaches combined with the fact osteopathy does not use drugs means osteopathy and mainstream medicine compliment each other very well. It also means osteopaths can treat people who are on any combination of medication for any number of illnesses as there can be no drug interactions.

Osteopaths are known for treating the musculoskeletal system and dealing with aches, pains, and stiffness. A lot of credible research has been completed that demonstrates the effectiveness of osteopathy at treating the musculoskeletal problems. Furthermore, the quality is of such a high standard that osteopathy is now recommended in the NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines for arthritic patients and those with longstanding back and neck pain.

Not enough research has not yet been done into the efficacy of treating non-muscular conditions which means osteopathy cannot be recommended by NICE or Doctors in these instances. Osteopaths do believe they have a broad scope of care and can help benefit many non-musculoskeletal problems however, before these claims can be made the regulatory bodies require more evidence based research.

This Research is being done and the evidence base is growing. There is already some evidence to support osteopathy benefiting patients with respiratory conditions such as the flu, (this was the most commonly treated condition when osteopathy was first established), pneumonia, asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD). (Cheito 2010, Hruby 2007, Hawk 2007, Noll 2000),

There is also a growing foundation and a lot of anecdotal and case history based evidence (Kohatsu 2002), to support the osteopathic treatment of digestive conditions such as IBS and chronic reflux (heart burn). (Brice 2000) 

Other research has been done that shows osteopathy can help with ailments suffered by children and babies such as glue ear, colic, and even help with the symptoms of cerebral palsy. (Carr 2006, Duncan 2004, Brice 2000, Arbuckle 1994, Fryman 1992).

There is some evidence to show women’s conditions such as period pains, and endometriosis could benefit. There is also lots of discussion within the profession related to improving fertility. This is a very sensitive under researched topic that will require thorough and high quality research but it shows the potential breadth and the range of conditions osteopathy may be able to help with. (Adams 2003, Hyne 1998)

Osteopathy caters for everyone no matter what age or state of health. The Osteopathy we offer at our Southampton studio is fantastic at treating musculoskeletal aches and pains with research to prove it. Osteopathy also has a role in treating other systemic ailments for which the evidence base is growing all the time.

Next time you visit our osteopath ask her what she can do for your IBS, or Asthma and see if she can help you might be surprised.


Arbuckle B, (1994), Cerebral palsy—special reference to importance of early care of newborns. In: The Selected Writings of Beryl E. Arbuckle, American Academy of Osteopathy 2nd ed. page113.

Carr R, Milap N, (2006) complementary and alternative medicine for upper respiratory tract infection in children, American journal of health system pharmacy, Vol 6 issue 1, 33-39

Duncan B, Barton L, Edmonds D, Blashill BM (2004), Parental perceptions of the therapeutic effect from osteopathic manipulation or acupuncture in children with cerebral palsy, Clin Pediatr (Phila), 349 –353

Frymann VM, Carney RE, Springall P, (1992), Effect of osteopathic medical management on neurologic development in children, J Am Osteopath Assoc, 92:729 –744

Hawk C, Khorsan R, Lisi AJ, Ferrance RJ, Evans MW, (2007), Chiropractic care for nonmusculoskeletal conditions: a systematic review with implications for whole systems research, J Altern Complement Med.;13(5):491-512

Hayden C, Mulinger B, (2006), a prelimery assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic, complementary clinical practice, (2) 83-90

Hruby R, Hoffman K, (2007), Avian influenza osteopathic component to treatment, osteopathic medicine and primary care 1:10

Hyne J, (1998), women’s health osteopathy: an alternative view, nurse management 5:6-9

Kohatsu W, (2002), questions and answers about integrating CAM into clinical practice, Hanley and Belfus publishers, USA

Mills M, Henley C, Barnes L, Carreiro J, (2003), the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment in children with recurrent acute otitis media, ArchPediatr Adolesc Med, 157:861-866

Noll D, Johnson J, Baer R, Snider E, (2000), the immediate effect of individual manipulation techniques on pulmonary function measures in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteopathic medicine and primary care 3:9

Proctor ML, Hing W, Johnson TC, Murphy PA, (2001) Spinal manipulation for primary and secondary dysmenorrhoea, Cochrane Database Systematic Review (4):CD002119

Source: bso-web.bso.ac.uk