History of osteopathy

A history

The practice of osteopathy based on an intimate knowledge of the anatomical and physiological features of the body first appeared in the 19th century. One man, a man intently curious and decidedly open-minded laid down the first guidelines for a diagnostic and therapeutic approach to medical science, examining and treating man in his entirety rather than simply treating a disease and also to try to maintain an individual’s health so that he does not fall prey to illness. This man was Andrew Taylor Still.

« Osteopathy uses manual techniques to restore the joint mobility so vital for our well-being »

One could define osteopathy as the art of diagnosing and treating dysfunctions in the mobility (the movement of one tissue with respect to another) and motility (the inherent capacity of a tissue to become altered) of various parts of the body using only manual techniques.

By looking at man as a whole it is easy to understand how these dysfunctions can impact on other, more distant parts of the body linked mechanically, neurologically or through fluids and so affect general health. The founder of this art, Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917), partly summed this up with the simple declaration that « structure governs function »..

The American School of Ostéopathy (A.S.O.)

The American School of Ostéopathy (A.S.O.) was founded by Andrew Taylor Still at Kirksville (Missouri) in 1892.

One brilliant student of the school was the Scotsman John Martin Littlejohn (1865-1947) who went on to teach there before becoming its principal. It was he who brought osteopathy to Europe when in 1917 he founded the British School of Osteopathy (B.S.O.) in London. The third great name in osteopathy, John Wernham (1907-2007), studied there, later taking the school to Maidstone (Kent) as the Maidstone Osteopathy Clinic which later become the European School of Osteopathy (E.S.O).

The C.I.D.O. (Centre International D’Ostéopathie)

The C.I.D.O. (Centre International D’Ostéopathie) first saw the light of day in Saint Etienne en 1987 to ensure that the excellence of osteopathy teaching could continue in France under the auspices of the E.S.O. in Maidstone.

The CIDO has always been very active in the fight to obtain recognition for the profession in France. With the legalisation of the profession in 2002 the CIDO began by offering a training programme over 6 years. This meant that it needed to expand its premises and build new facilities for teaching and a clinic. In 2005 it obtained ISO 2000-9001 certification. Once the decrees relative to the legislation were published in March 2007, the CIDO was one of the first 9 schools in France to obtain authorisation from the French Ministry for Health, Youth and Sports and sign up to the Erasmus charter. The course then become available over 5 years with an additional year of specialization. In 2008 the CIDO and four other school joined together to form the RGEO (Réseau des Grandes Écoles d’Ostéopathie) a group of the finest osteopathy schools in France.

To ensure optimal quality, the CIDO needed even more space, so with a little more building the CIDO can now boast facilities that equal the excellence of its reputation.

Since July 2009, the CIDO is included in the National Registry for Professional Certifications, validating its osteopathy diploma.

It’s a long way from Kirksville and Andrew Taylor Still, John Martin Littlejohn, John Wernham and Thomas Dummer (some members of our teaching staff can boast having know the latter two gentlemen) but the story of osteopathy can continue at the CIDO for many years to come.

Just one tool – the hand

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a university type teaching programme totalling 4,300 hours of teaching after the baccalaureat high-school examination giving access to a profession where responsibility and competence with regards prevention and maintaining good health in patients are paramount.

The text « Guidelines for the Osteopathy Profession (RPO®), drawn up conjointly by five osteopathic bodies recognized three main areas of osteopathic intervention: osteoarticular techniques (including thrust techniques or manipulations of the vertebral column and joints) Myofascial and craniosacral techniques.

The hand searches out somatic dysfunctions within the body’s tissues. More than the questioning of the patient, more than the observation, it is the hand that is both the diagnostic and treatment tool.

The osteopath considers the body as a single unit. The actions of the various systems within the body have a tripartite physiological link: the neuro-mecanico-vascular link. In fact all the techniques used have in common that they provide information to afferent elements of the peripheral nervous system and vegetative nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic). This explains why the effects of osteopathy on the body and not just local, but act on the whole organism.

The body and the psyche are inseparable; it is frequent to find a link between a physical symptom and a traumatic occurrence of successive periods of stress affecting the patient psychologically or emotionally. The osteopath looks beyond the symptoms to find the reasons why the body is not behaving as it should.

The originality of osteopathy can be summed up in just three points :

  • Consideration of the patient in his entirety and the principal of auto regulation (homeostasis). Balance: to function correctly the body is perpetually searching for harmony and balance, the law of general homeostasis,
  • Economy: the law of energy saving,
  • No pain.

While both a science and a technique, osteopaths learn to discern tensions and imbalance within the body through touch ; the hand both analyses and heals.

« Balance »

Osteopathy is concerned with anatomy and physiology in its widest sense. It requires in-depth knowledge of how the body functions and the inter-relationship between its systems. The therapeutic use of the hands remains in the physiological domain and taking into consideration :

  • Strategic options: choosing the right osteopathic tool as a function of the mechanic lesion, the hierarchy of the imbalance and the vitality of the patient.
  • Tactical options: the role of osteopathy as one element of a complete therapeutic package (alternative or complementary therapies).

The body is a subtle mechanism. If the various structures are working together harmoniously, then the body is in ‘good health’. If the mobility of these structures is hampered, then so is their function. The three laws of Balance, Energy and No Pain will then govern how the body compensates to try to overcome the malfunction of one of its components.

Since each part of the body is totally interdependent on every other part, it remains only for the osteopath to treat the body as a whole, to allow the body to remove its compensatory mechanisms and restore mobility to the body’s various structures.