150 Years Of Osteopathy

2024 marks the one hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Osteopathy by the first osteopath Andrew Taylor Still. He was a physician and surgeon, author, inventor and was a state and territorial legislator for Kansas in the USA. Through work he was encouraged to set up a hospital and a teaching university in Kirksville, Missouri, the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University).

His story is a fascinating one, he was born into a house where his father was a Methodist minister and Doctor. He was apprenticed under his father and was a surgeon in the American civil war. Life was hard in those days and there was no antibiotics at this time so infectious disease was the number one killer and the physicians of the time used treatment approaches including the use of arsenic, mercury, opium and alcohol for “cures”. Still himself lost his wife, and four children including an adopted child who died of meningitis and this loss and grief became the catalyst for him to learn all he could about the human body and try to understand why for some people their disease killed them and others survived. He also lived with a native Indian tribe for some time and through this experience adopted spiritualism (1).

It was in 1874 he felt he had defined a science within itself and called it Osteopathy from Osteon (the bone) and pathos (suffering). He was trying to communicate the theory that disease and altered function were due to problems within the musculoskeletal system.

Still defined Osteopathy as:
“A Science that consists of such exact, exhaustive, and verifiable knowledge of the structure and function of the human mechanism, anatomical, physiological and psychological, including the chemistry and physics of its known elements, as has made discoverable certain organic laws and remedial resources, within the body itself, by which nature under the scientific treatment peculiar to osteopathic practice, apart from all ordinary methods of extraneous, artificial, or medicinal stimulation, and in harmonious accord with its own mechanical principles, molecular activities, and metabolic processes, may recover from displacements, disorganizations, derangements, and consequent disease, and regained its normal equilibrium of form and function in health and strength (1).”

We are now seeing this in modern medicine which is using more than ever the body’s own systems to alleviate disease, for example priming the body’s own immune system to identify cancer cells and target them specifically. Still saw Osteopathy within medicine as he imagined a therapy consisting of manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, surgery when required and the sparing use of drugs including anaesthetics, antiseptics and antidotes (2).

Osteopathy came to England in 1934 and by this point we have antibiotic use and medicine was far more effective when treating infectious disease. Osteopaths in England are not Doctors of Osteopathy like they are in America and so our role within the healthcare system is within the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints. One of Stills famous quotes is “Dig on!” when referring to the understanding of the human body and how we can help it to find health. He would I am sure be fascinated at our continued understanding of how the human body works both in health and disease. Role on the next 150 years and happy birthday Osteopathy!

1. Autobiography of A.T. Still 1908.
2. Gevitz, Norman (July 3, 2011). “History of Osteopathic Medicine (Interview with Norman Gevitz)”. Sound Medicine. Archived from the original on October 3, 2013.

Thank you for read our article on “150 Years Of Osteopathy” we hope you enjoyed it.

Please feel free to contact a member of our team for more advise. You can also keep up to date with us via our Facebook page.

150 Years Of Osteopathy

150 Years Of Osteopathy

2024 marks the one hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Osteopathy by the first osteopath Andrew Taylor Still. He was a physician and surgeon, author, inventor and was a state and territorial legislator for Kansas in the USA. Through work he was encouraged to set up a hospital and a teaching university in Kirksville, Missouri, the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University).

His story is a fascinating one, he was born into a house where his father was a Methodist minister and Doctor. He was apprenticed under his father and was a surgeon in the American civil war. Life was hard in those days and there was no antibiotics at this time so infectious disease was the number one killer and the physicians of the time used treatment approaches including the use of arsenic, mercury, opium and alcohol for “cures”. Still himself lost his wife, and four children including an adopted child who died of meningitis and this loss and grief became the catalyst for him to learn all he could about the human body and try to understand why for some people their disease killed them and others survived. He also lived with a native Indian tribe for some time and through this experience adopted spiritualism (1).

It was in 1874 he felt he had defined a science within itself and called it Osteopathy from Osteon (the bone) and pathos (suffering). He was trying to communicate the theory that disease and altered function were due to problems within the musculoskeletal system.

Still defined Osteopathy as:
“A Science that consists of such exact, exhaustive, and verifiable knowledge of the structure and function of the human mechanism, anatomical, physiological and psychological, including the chemistry and physics of its known elements, as has made discoverable certain organic laws and remedial resources, within the body itself, by which nature under the scientific treatment peculiar to osteopathic practice, apart from all ordinary methods of extraneous, artificial, or medicinal stimulation, and in harmonious accord with its own mechanical principles, molecular activities, and metabolic processes, may recover from displacements, disorganizations, derangements, and consequent disease, and regained its normal equilibrium of form and function in health and strength (1).”

We are now seeing this in modern medicine which is using more than ever the body’s own systems to alleviate disease, for example priming the body’s own immune system to identify cancer cells and target them specifically. Still saw Osteopathy within medicine as he imagined a therapy consisting of manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, surgery when required and the sparing use of drugs including anaesthetics, antiseptics and antidotes (2).

Osteopathy came to England in 1934 and by this point we have antibiotic use and medicine was far more effective when treating infectious disease. Osteopaths in England are not Doctors of Osteopathy like they are in America and so our role within the healthcare system is within the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints. One of Stills famous quotes is “Dig on!” when referring to the understanding of the human body and how we can help it to find health. He would I am sure be fascinated at our continued understanding of how the human body works both in health and disease. Role on the next 150 years and happy birthday Osteopathy!

1. Autobiography of A.T. Still 1908.
2. Gevitz, Norman (July 3, 2011). “History of Osteopathic Medicine (Interview with Norman Gevitz)”. Sound Medicine. Archived from the original on October 3, 2013.

Thank you for read our article on “150 Years Of Osteopathy” we hope you enjoyed it.

Please feel free to contact a member of our team for more advise. You can also keep up to date with us via our Facebook page.