About Osteopathy

The most common question that inevitably gets asked by all those who are considering going to an Osteopath for help, is what is the difference between us and Chiropractors? I tend to answer that our objectives are the same in terms of the desire to restore the patient to the status quo that they were enjoying prior to them coming to seek our help. However, how we go about achieving this is where we differ.

For those choosing between us it is a matter of personal preference. As they say, there are a number of ways of skinning a rat. Nowadays, there are a number of therapies which for some people can achieve what Osteopaths and Chiropractors do. Ultimately, it is a question of what works for you.

Not long after qualifying at the beginning of the ’80s, a rather surly voiced caller asked very pointedly, was I a Bonesetter?

Before there were Osteopaths, Chiropractors or Physiotherapists, there were bonesetters. Getting down to the nitty gritty, when it comes to problems to do the back, the vast majority of treatments involve some form of manipulation of the vertebrae making up the spinal column.

Manipulation as well as the treatment of fractures goes back to way beyond the time of Christ, and was being carried out in many countries. In particular, there is an ancient Egyptian medical text, known as the Edwin Smith Papyrus, in which dislocation and fractures are mentioned. It dates back to 1552 B.C., so that is a good 3000 years plus!

More recently back in the 18th century, in Great Britain, there was a famous bonesetter, Sally Mapp, known as “Crazy Sally”, whose father taught her to successfully treat all manner of dislocations and fractures.

I watched a documentary recently that showed a Chinese practitioner of martial arts tending to one of his students who had suffered a bad fall, and carried out a manipulation identical to that of a technique that I was taught. Bonesetters in China are known as Dit-Da. It literally translates as “to hit” and “to fall”. In broader terms it relates to the body of knowledge which involves non-invasive and external treatments.

Osteopathy, not unlike Dit-Da, is non-invasive and most definitely external in its application. We do not deal with fractured or broken bones which is something that Bonesetters did. Mercifully, this is where the Orthopaedic branch of medicine comes to the rescue.