Origins and rise of osteopathy

Osteopathy was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, an American physician practising in Missouri, USA towards the end of the 19th century. Still was dissatisfied with the common medical practices of his era. His determination to improve medical care resulted in a new set of medical principles and practices, which he named “osteopathy.” Using his osteopathic approach, Still was able to provide relief for patients with challenging medical conditions such as chronic headaches and sciatica. He also succeeded in restoring health to a number of patients with life-threatening infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, dysentery and pneumonia.

In 1892 Still opened up the first osteopathic college and offered to teach his approach to anyone who was interested in learning, including women and people of color. Over the next 10 years, osteopathic medicine flourished in the USA: by 1903, 20 other osteopathic colleges across the country had opened their doors to students and by the time of Still’s death in 1917 there were more than 3000 D.O.’s (Doctors of Osteopathy), licensed by the American Medical Association, treating patients in the United States.

Osteopathy found its way to Europe early on in its history. A handful of British students who had studied with Still returned to the UK and began practicing there between 1900 and 1903. By 1917 the first European osteopathic college had opened its doors in London. There is evidence that by this time osteopathy had already made its way to France, although the first French osteopathic college did not open its doors until 1950.

Osteopathy has since made its way around the world, although the profession’s educational standards, popularity and legal standing vary widely from country to country (for more information please see Osteopathy as a profession).  Currently, osteopathy is practiced and taught in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United States, Venezuela and Wales.

(For a list of sources , click here)