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Manual Osteopathy versus Medical Osteopath: Deciphering Training and Terminology

Manual Osteopathy versus Medical Osteopath: Deciphering Terminology and Training in Osteopathy

For readers interesed in deciphering all the various and differing terminology surrounding the profession of Osteopathy, this information will hopefully assist. Simply, as Osteopathy developed, two distinct branches of Osteopathy evolved in North America: Medical Osteopathy and Manual Osteopathy.

In the mid 1950’s the split occurred within the Osteopathic profession. In the US, Medical osteopaths moved away from a primary holistic, hands-on manual approach and education closer to the medical doctor training; their allopathic training encompasses surgery and they prescribe pharmaceutical medication. However, educational branches of Manual Osteopathy in Europe and Canada continued to teach and practice the true art of drug free manual therapy.

Medical Osteopath: In the Unites States, Osteopathy is part of the medical system. An American style Osteopath has attended medical school in the United States (note there currently are no Osteopathic Medical Schools in Canada). These graduates are physicians and can call themselves a MD or Doctor, Osteopath or Osteopathic Physician. Theses Osteopaths can legally diagnose disease, perform surgery, deliver babies, prescribe pharmaceutical medication and have full medical practice rights in the United States, Canada and some other countries. The title of ‘Osteopathic Doctor’ is a controlled title within BC / Canada by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, so regardless of the training or degree one has obtained in another country, one cannot use the title of Osteopath Doctor in Canada unless a graduate from a US medical school.

Osteopathic Manual Practitioners: The majority of traditional Osteopathy schools in Europe and the rest of the world (including schools in Canada) educates osteopathic manual practitioners that have received the Classical European style or Manual style osteopathy which emphasizes detailed osteopathic theory and hands-on, drug free manual therapy. Graduates from a Doctor of Osteopathy degree program in Europe (EU) or a classical Osteopathic school in Canada call themselves osteopathic manual practitioners, a manual osteopath, manual osteopathy practitioner, or osteopathic manual therapist.

Within the realm of classical osteopathy there is a vitality or traditional based manual practice and mechanical or science based osteopathy which uses modern orthopaedic style, evidence based practices; where philosophies may vary slightly however all hands on techniques are similar. Techniques such as joint mobilization and muscle energy techniques are supported by scientific research. A manual osteopath aids to restore mobility and enhance normal fluid flow in the body.

A manual osteopath is not a medical doctor and does not diagnose disease. If you have an undiagnosed health condition, always consult your medical physician prior to initiating osteopathic manual therapy.

In 2010, the World Health Organization published its ‘Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy’, recognizing Osteopathy as a distinct practice, unique from other professions that use manual techniques (such as physiotherapy and chiropractic). The WHO created educational guidelines for Osteopathic training. According to the World Health Organization, Osteopathic medicine puts a strong emphasis on structure and function model of integrity where biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system can support the health of the entire body while supporting the bodies self healing processes.

Katolen Yardley, DO (EU) is a Registered Manual Osteopathic Practitioner. She has obtained a degree as Doctor of Osteopathy (EU), along with completion of 1000 additional hours of Osteopathy Clinical Internship which complies with World Health Organization requirements for Osteopathic practitioner training. 

How does Manual Osteopathy Differ from Other Therapies?

Manual Osteopathy is a unique in its techniques as well as philosophy, viewing the body as one whole unit and is unlike physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. Techniques are very gentle and incorporate the full body including: joints, muscles, bones, ligaments, fascia and possibly the cranium as well as internal organs into treatment. It is best understood by simply experiencing it, the sensation is incomparable to other well-known therapies vary with each visit and every individual. Osteopathy and Chiropractic originated from the same source, Dr Andrew Still. It has been said that the discipline of chiropractic originated from one of Dr Stills students, DD Palmer in the late 1890’s; whereas Osteopathy was founded by Dr Andrew Still about a decade earlier in 1874.

For more information about Osteopathy, visit our website Alinear Osteopathy.

manual osteopathy in Vancouver
Dr Andrew Taylor Still - founder of Osteopathy
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Dr Andrew Taylor Still - founder of Osteopathy

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