What is osteopathy?1

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.

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 mechanisms.  They may also provide advice on posture and exercise to aid recovery, promote health and prevent symptoms recurring.”

According to the General Osteopathic Council’s website: An Osteopathy management plan may also include advice on exercising at home, daily posture, diet and lifestyle.

Osteopathy regulation

Who and what do osteopaths treat?1

Osteopaths’ patients include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, pregnant women, children and sports people.  Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions, including back pain, repetitive strain injury, changes to posture in pregnancy, postural problems caused by driving or work strain, the pain of arthritis and sports injuries.

Regulation of osteopathy1

All osteopaths in the UK are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). Osteopaths are required to renew their registration each year… As part of this process, the GOsC checks that osteopaths have current professional indemnity insurance, remain in good health and of good character, and have met mandatory continuing professional development requirements.

It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC, which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety.”

Facts about osteopathy: The Osteopaths Act 1993

  • Osteopathy was the first ‘complementary’ therapy to have received statutory regulation by Parliament & has been recognised by the medical profession for a number of years

  • The title ‘Osteopath’ is legally protected & registration by the GOsC is awarded only to those practitioners that meet strict guidelines & standards

  • Osteopathy can be given independently or in conjunction with your Doctor. It is not necessary to have a referral from your Doctor unless required by your insurance company

  • Osteopathy is covered by most medical insurance schemes

Insurance and Standards

Osteopathy is an established profession recognised as a ‘discreet clinical discipline’ by The British Medical Association and regulated by The General Osteopathic Council.

Patients have the same safeguards when visiting an osteopath as when visiting a doctor or dentist.

Osteopathy Registration Mark


1 General Osteopathic Council (2013). Available at: http://www.osteopathy.org.uk/information/about-osteopathy/

[Accessed 1st June 2013]