Osteopathy is a system of diagnosis and treatment

for a wide range of medical conditions.  It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

History of Osteopathy


Osteopathy was founded in 1874

by Andrew Taylor Still. Still became disillusioned with medicine and the crude drugs that were used at that time and developed a drug free system of medicine that worked

by maximising the potential of the bodys’ innate healing ability.

He was also greatly interested in mechanics and engineering and

saw the body as a machine, where all parts needed to be working smoothly and efficiently for it to function effectively. He believed that mechanical dysfunction pre-disposed the body to illness and disease by impairing the function

of nerves and blood vessels and used manipulation to improve the dysfunction.

To an osteopath, for your body to work well, its structure must also

work well.  So Osteopaths work to restore your body to a state of balance, where possible without the use of drugs or surgery.  Osteopaths use touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage to increase the mobility of joints, to relieve muscle tension, to enhance the blood and nerve supply to tissues, and to help your body’s own healing mechanism. They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.

In 1892 Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville Missouri with 20 students, by the time of his death in 1917 there were 7000 Osteopaths. In the USA today there are over 80,000 practising Osteopaths


From America, Osteopathy

was exported to England, most prominently by John Martin Littlejohn a student of AT Still,

who founded the British school

of Osteopathy in 1917.  There are now over 5000 Osteopaths registered with the General Osteopathic council in the UK.


In 1993 the Osteopaths act was passed in parliament making the General Osteopathic council the statutory regulator for Osteopathy.  To use the title Osteopath, you

must be registered with the

General Osteopathic Council and abide by the strict guidelines to ensure patient safety.

Cranial Osteopathy


Cranial osteopathy is not different to osteopathy, it is the name given to a subtle and refined approach

to osteopathy that follows all the principles of osteopathy, and it is used throughout the body not just

in the head. The name cranial osteopathy simply refers to the fact that it includes the structures inside the head. Cranial osteopaths use

a highly developed sense of touch

to feel subtle changes of tension

and tissue quality in the living anatomy of the whole body, and

to diagnose areas of strain or dysfunction. The osteopath is often drawn to areas in the body that have been affected by past events, such

as old accidents and injuries.

The body may have learned to compensate for a traumatic event

or injury and the patient may be unaware that there is anything wrong, but the effects may still be present and relevant to current symptoms.

Diagnosis and treatment are intimately linked as the osteopath works to activate the innate ability of the body to heal itself, and by offering gentle and specific support where it is needed to bring the tissues into a state of balance and release, to restore it to health. Using this approach, the osteopath learns to listen to and be guided by the bodys’ inner knowledge of what is wrong, which may be different to the patients opinion and the osteopaths opinion. This helps the osteopath to understand and treat the cause of the symptoms, to reduce the chance of symptoms returning in the future.

Cranial osteopathy is a gentle, safe and effective approach to treatment of a wide range of problems in the whole body.


Definition used by the

General Osteopathic council

What is Osteopathy

Due to covid 19,

Totnes Osteopathy

is closed