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Classical Osteopathy and Osteopathic Thinking

Lisa Marie Foreman, B.Sc., DO-MTP, M.OMSc. - Osteopath


The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease. - Thomas Edison

Early American classical Osteopathy is founded on the principles of natural law. A principle is succinctly described as: A comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption; a rule; the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device. (Merriam-Webster, 2014)

Natural law is the indisputable theory or principle that governs our world and is thus the foundation of Classical Osteopathy. It is based on the natural law (anatomy and physiology) that was available to physicians of the time. It is progressive rather than regressive, meaning that it requires the thinking Osteopath to have a firm, logical foundation that also challenges preconceived notions. It relies on an impeccable understanding of the natural law, on the structure and function relationships, and belief in the self-healing and self-regulating mechanisms of the human body. Only when these concepts are appreciated can clinicians apply their osteopathic thinking. (Robert Johnson, 2015)

How does such self-regulation occur? The Osteopath has his own symptomatology. He seeks the cause, removes the obstruction and lets nature's remedy - arterial blood - be the doctor. (A.T.Still, 1910)

Any manual treatment has a physical, neuromuscular and (although speculative) psychological change resulting in a nuanced physiological change that involves an entire body response. Dr. Still says that the remedial life-giving force that exists within the body, invoked by the physiological change, is delivered by the blood. Therein lies the approach to osteopathic treatment: if the self-healing and self-regulating mechanism of the body (which Still argues is facilitated by the blood) is being obstructed, then it is the job of the Osteopath to manually remove the obstruction or occlusions that are preventing that mechanism from taking place. Rather than looking for disease, Osteopathy involves revitalizing areas where health is obstructed. (Robert Johnson, 2015)

In essence, the Osteopath aims to restore health to the patient rather than just eliminate the symptoms of disease. Disease is the result of anatomical abnormalities followed by physiological discord. This methodology is based on logical mechanics, anatomy and physiology.



REFERENCES: Robert Johnson, GENERAL OSTEOPATHIC TREATMENT, An Introduction to the Principles of Classical Osteopathic Treatment, CAO Press, Hamilton, Ontario, 2015.

A.T. Still, OSTEOPATHY, RESEARCH AND PRACTICE, Published by the Author, Kirksville, MO, 1910.

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