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Osthéopathie Canada

History of osteopathy



A.T. Still wrote: “You wonder what Osteopathy is; you look in the medical dictionary and find as its definition "bone disease." That is a grave mistake. It is compounded of two words, osteon, meaning bone, pathos, pathine, to suffer. Greek lexicographers say it is a proper name for a science founded on a knowledge of bones. So instead of "bone disease" it really means "usage." Autobiography 1897 edition - p.221” (1)


Osteopathy was established officially on the 22nd of June 1874 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still, and is still too little-known to this day. Yet, its global vision of the human body distinguishes it from other therapy.

Its founder, son of a pastor and doctor, was convinced that the human being was of divine conception. He concluded that God had created in man a perfect being; otherwise God himself would not be perfect. "I decided then that God was not a guessing God, but a God of truth. And all His works, spiritual and material, are harmonious. His law of animal life was absolute. So wise a God had certainly placed the remedy within the material house in which the spirit of life dwells. Autobiography 1897 edition - p.99 (2)-. This idea was the basis of all his research, which would be from then on centered on anatomical knowledge of the body.

He developed a manual therapy centered on the research of the causes of the pathology, not on its effects: the body, having all the medicine necessary to its self-healing, all you have to do is to remove the blocks to allow the life fluids (blood, lymph, cephalorachidian liquid) and the information (nerve impulse) to reach the affected region and allow it to recover.

Founded more than 130 years ago, osteopathy is a mild therapeutic approach in perpetual evolution characterized by the development of a tactile sensibility. This listening and touching work is reached through prior mastering of basic knowledge in anatomy, physiology, semiology and pathology.


This therapeutic approach has established 4 fundamental concepts
1. 1. The unity of the being
2. 2. The structure governing the function
3. 3. The auto-regulation

4. The absolute role of the artery



The unity of the being


A. T. Still talks a lot about the fascia. The human being and its various components is a functional unity linked by fascia tissues.

The fascia is universal in man and equal in self to all other parts,  - Philosophy 1899, p.163 (3)
this connecting substance must be free at all parts to receive and discharge all fluids, if healthy to appropriate and use in sustaining animal life, and eject all impurities that health may not be impaired by the dead and poisoning fluids. Philosophy 1899, p.166-167 (4)(A. T. Still)

The body contains myofascial-skeletal structures along with internal organs (contained in the cranial, thoracic and abdominal cavity), nerves, and blood and lymphatic vessels. The nerves and the vessels maintain the complex communication between structures and internal organs. Together, the form a unity between them and any affected part affects other parts by rebound. When a disruption or a block happens in one part of the body, there is necessarily an attack on the distribution of the forces; influences can then transmit themselves in all spaces of the body and in all fields of life.




The structure governing the function


One of the great principles introduced be A. T. Still in osteopathy acknowledges a relation between structure and function. This notion is inspired to him, among others, by Spencer, who defines the biological being as a “concrete whole possessing a structure that allows him, when placed in acceptable conditions, to constantly accommodate its internal relations to the external ones, in such a manner that the equilibrium of his functions are maintained”. (Spencer)

The means of nerves and liquid communication are the agents of the unity of the body, any hindrance or attack weakens the individual’s adaptability to his environment and to his self-healing capacity. This mutual relation is significant: if we fix the structure, the function will come back; but the opposite is also true, when a function is disrupted, the structures and the skeleton are affected. The symptom is only an expression of the loss of mobility of a structure (muscular-skeletal, visceral, cranial or fascial).

The first manifestation of life is movement. Osteopathy seeks to restore the normal movement of structures to keep the integrity of the functions.




The absolute role of the artery
  Still also puts the emphasis on the importance of fluids circulation and on the liberty of nerve structures. “The Osteopath seeks first physiological perfection of form, by normally adjusting the osseous frame work, so that all arteries may deliver blood to nourish and construct all parts. Also that the veins may carry away all impurities dependent upon them for renovation. Also that the nerves of all classes may be free and unobstructed while applying the powers of life and motion to all divisions, and the whole system of nature'slaboratory.  Philosophy 1899, p.27-28(5)




The auto-regulation
  Our cells must receive everything they need to function adequately, to regenerate and to get rid of their waste. When the osteopath removes the structural barriers from the nerve and liquid communication means, he allows the body to draw his remedies to regain health. The body has the inherent ability to defend and to cure itself by various auto-regulation mechanisms. “If in the human body you can find the most wonderful chemical laboratory mind can conceive of, why not give more of your time to that subject, that you may obtain a better understanding of its workings? Philosophy 1899, p.221 (6)



1 : Still,Autobiography 1897 edition - p.221
2 : Still,Autobiography 1897 edition - p.99.
3 : Still, Philosophy 1899, p.163.
4 : Still, Philosophy 1899, p.166-167.
5 : Still, Philosophy 1899, p.27-28.
6 : Still, Philosophy 1899, p.27-28.