Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

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What is Osteopathy?

Traditional Osteopathy, as presented by the Canadian School of Osteopathy Manual Practice, is defined as:

“A natural medicine which aims to restore function in the body by treating the causes of pain and imbalance. To achieve this goal the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner relies on the quality and finesse of his/her palpation and works with the position, mobility and quality of the tissues.”

Osteopathy History:

The profession of Osteopathy was founded in 1874 single-handedly by an American doctor, with a mechanical background, named Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). Still was the third son of a pioneer doctor, under whom he apprenticed at the culmination of the Jacksonian era (1829-1837). It was a time that encouraged independent thought and the development of new disciplines to improve the lot of mankind.


Dr. Andrew Still disdained the common practices of physicians in the 1800s, such as venesection, emesis, and sedation with narcotics. He believed instead, that everything that was necessary to sustain human life was already present within the human body. Still sought to find non-medicinal and non-surgical avenues to enhance the body's innate ability to heal itself.

Dr. Andrew Still focused on the mechanical removal of the impediments to the free circulation of fluids, and the elements carried within those fluids. He felt that once these “mechanical blockages” to the free flow of fluids were removed, that free circulation of all the fluids of the body would naturally return. This free flow of fluids was Still's key to the self-regulation and self-healing processes of the body. The application of this philosophy and methodology was successful in treating musculoskeletal problems as well as the major diseases of his era such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, dysentery, and typhoid fever.

Although his work was transmitted through writing that was primarily philosophical in nature, he seemed to adapt two main types of techniques. One focused on restoring the “position” of the bones in relationship to each other. The other restored the “place” of the organs in relationship to the major vessels and neural centres of the body's cavities. These two systems are now known as osteo-articular adjustments and visceral normalization.

The first school of Osteopathy was opened by Still in Missouri in 1892. Since then several of his original students have enhanced the profession through the introduction of other manual systems of techniques, such as cranial-sacral therapy and fascial release.

By 1910 it was recommended, through sponsored reports, that Osteopathic colleges within the United States adopt a system of higher education, licensing and regulation. By 1930, through a staggered transition, the American osteopathic profession adopted a medical model of Osteopathic education that incorporated all conventional diagnostic and therapeutic practices of medicine including pharmacology, surgery and obstetrics. For this reason, all graduates from Osteopathic Colleges or Osteopathic Universities in the United States are fully licensed medical practitioners and are recognized internationally as Osteopathic Physicians.

In Canada, there are two types of osteopathic practitioners. There are Osteopathic Physicians, which are American-trained medically licensed physicians. These physicians would be found in common private practices with their MD colleagues and carry the DO title. The second type are Osteopathic Manual Therapists, which are Canadian and European-trained osteopathic practitioners. These therapists are trained in the non-medicinal and non-surgical avenues to enhance the body's innate ability to heal itself described by Andrew Taylor Still. In BC, Osteopathic Manual Therapists carry the DOMP title and commonly work in integrative health clinics.

Osteopathy Explained:

Osteopathy embraces the philosophy that the body has an innate or natural ability to self-regulate and to heal itself. The key factor that permits this process to proceed unimpeded is the ability of the body to circulate all of its fluids, including blood, lymph, synovial fluid, digestive juices, cerebrospinal fluid, axoplasm, and all the other intra and extracellular fluids of the body.

These fluids carry many of the body's life-sustaining compounds, such as hormones, enzymes and their secretions, immune and anti-inflammatory factors, neural impulses, nutritional elements, and dissolved gases such as oxygen. These fluids are involved in all aspects of life, from the DNA that is suspended within the intracellular fluids, to the fetus which floats in the amniotic fluid. In addition, these body fluids serve as mediums for excreting all the bi-products of digestion and cellular respiration.


Any obstruction that impedes the circulation of fluids within the body is the focus of Osteopathic assessment and treatment. These impediments may take the form of structural or non-structural blockages. Structural or physical impediments include generalized twists, curves or pulls within the body as well as specific bones, organs or tissues that are misaligned. These faults may either affect the control of a system that regulates fluid circulation, or affect the circulation of fluids along with the life sustaining and regulatory products that they carry.

By using a meticulous methodology, as provided through the Canadian School of Osteopathy Manual Practice's Traditional Osteopathic program, the Osteopath is able to determine the origin and effects of aging, trauma and other experiences, and then create and administer an appropriate treatment plan. This creates an environment where the body can properly self-regulate and you can rid yourself of chronic symptoms for good.


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Britte Nielsen, CPT, RHN, student of Osteopathic Manual Therapy is currently taking on clients. Britte is in her 4th year of osteopathy school at the Canadian School of Osteopathy, Vancouver. To find a time and book your first assessment, you can access our online booking system by clicking the button below.