History of the Osteopathy

a human skull

a human skull

Osteopathy started in the second part of the 19th century. The American doctor Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) reacted to the lack of knowledge of orthodox medicine at that time, when he had to see how his wife and his children died. He started to study the human skeleton to try to heal his patients.

In 1874, Still announced his new medicine and gave her the name of Osteopathy (from Greek „osteon“ for bone and „pathos“ for suffering). He was working with the locomotor system – bones, joints, muscles, tendons – and consequently based his method on the parietal area.

In 1892 he founded the first „American School of Osteopathy“ in Kirksville, Missouri, USA. His way of thinking was taken up and carried on by his students William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954) and John Martin Littlejohn (1865-1947).

In 1939 W.G. Sutherland introduced the phenomenon of primary respiration and developed the craniosacral osteopathy.

In 1917 J.M. Littlejohn brought Osteopathy to England and opened the „British School of Osteopathy” in London where this kind of therapy spread in the 1950s over Europe.

From then on the method continue to develop more and more.

In the 1980s, the French doctors Jean-Pierre Barral and Jacques Weischenk extended osteopathy to the examination and treatment of the intern organs after the discovery by the Swedisch physiotherapist Thure Brandt (1819-1895) and his French student H. Stapfer. This was the beginning of visceral osteopathy.

At the end of the 1980s, some osteopathic-schools, mainly from France and Belgium, founded branches in Germany, where until today physiotherapists, doctors, “Heilpraktiker” and further medical professionals are studying osteopathy in tandem with work.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, osteopathy is present in Switzerland too.

Osteopathy serves as a basis for other methods too, like:

  • Chirotherapy
  • Manual therapy
  • Rolfing
  • Craniosacral therapy