How to explain Osteopathy... concisely

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

What is osteopathy

A new client recently asked me 'what is osteopathy?' He asked because even after 10 years of visiting osteopaths, he still didn't have a concise explanation to share with friends. Sadly, I confessed that even after 10 years of studying and working as an osteopath, I still didn't have a concise one-line answer either.

So let's look at a few descriptions of osteopathy.

The tenets of osteopathy state that (1)

  • The body is a whole unit.

  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

  • The body has self-regulating mechanisms

  • Rational treatment is based on the above three principles

Osteopathy Australia (2) describes osteopathy as 'a form of manual healthcare which recognises the important link between the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves, circulation, connective tissue and internal organs function as a holistic unit.' Their definition continues here.

Osteopaths are also well known for operating within the biopsychosocial healthcare model. This approach to healthcare involves considering all of the factors that affect health including our physical health (biological), our mental health (psychological) and our social health (community, family, socioeconomic, cultural factors). This model can provide a more complete understanding of a client and therefore are a better chance of helping them improve their health. 

The practice of osteopathy has been described as an art that requires the application of scientific medical knowledge and osteopathic philosophy to address the needs of the client. For me personally, osteopathy provides the opportunity to connect with each client, to care for them as an individual and to support them on their journey towards finding health and balance.

So here's my attempt at a concise one liner.

Osteopaths are university trained health practitioners who use a wide range of manual therapy and health education techniques and who treat the body as a whole unit with the aim of assisting the body to be dynamically balanced and to function as efficiently as possible.

For some examples of the types of conditions osteo's treat and the manual techniques we use, check out our FAQ page.

Hopefully that helps, but if not just tell your friends to come and see for themselves.

Happy chatting!



1. Kuchera, W., 1994. Osteopathic Principles in Practice. Greyden Press.


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