Osteopathic Medicine

What is Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic medicine 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.

What does the Osteopathic Medicine treatment involve?

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.

An osteopath uses 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.

How does Osteopathic Medicine Differ around the world?

In the United States of America, you have to complete a post graduate degree in Osteopathic medicine which provides the same rights to practice medicine as an ordinary medical degree in all of the 50 United States of America. The difference is the doctors have the post nominal lettering DO instead of MD and a DO has usually received (500+) additional hours in musculoskeletal medicine training at university.

Outside the USA in the British commonwealth countries and Europe, Osteopathy is considered a seperate profession from medicine but you still have to complete an undergraduate degree to practice as an osteopath.

What Education and Training must an Osteopath complete to register with GOsC in the United Kingdom?

Training as an osteopath takes 4-5 years to complete either a Bachelors or Masters of Osteopathy / Osteopathic Medicine as a recognised qualification to practice as an osteopath and register with the GOsC. In which the first two years of the course resembles the first two years of a medical degree.  

Osteopaths learn anatomy, physiology, embryology, Osteopathic techiques, clinical medicine and pathophysiology, clinical diagnosis and differential diagnosis. The most advanced training teaches managing clinical uncertainty in clinical practice.

Osteopathic students are expected to complete 1000-1200 hours of clinical training under the supervision of qualifiied registered osteopaths.

What is a Registered Osteopath?

The title osteopath’is protected by law. It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC), which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety.

What continued professional development and training must Osteopaths complete to remain registered with GOsC?

Osteopaths must complete a minimum of 30 hours continued professional development each year to maintain their skills and knowedge based to remain registered with the general osteopathic council. At least 15 hours should be completed 'with others' where osteopaths go on training courses, share complicated case histories for example and 15 hours of self study this could be reading medical text books or reading current research and journals articles. But most complete more than 30 hours a year. 

The Clinical Setting in which Osteopaths Practice in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Osteopaths are mostly self-employed in the private sector, where they are either practicing as a sole practitioner or part of a team osteopaths or part of a multi-disciplinary practice with other healthcare professionals. Osteopathy unfortunately has limited availability on the NHS. This is partly because of the lack of funding available for Osteopathy within the NHS.