Osteopathic philosophy is based upon a multifaceted interconnected set of core principles. These guiding principles intelligently direct the practice of Osteopathy, transforming what appears to be a manual medicine procedure into an integrated therapeutic event.


The Osteopathic Way of Knowing

1. Holism: A Dynamic State

Human beings function in a dynamic state of holism or what Andrew Taylor Still* called “connected oneness.” The Osteopathic approach unites the many structural and functional manifestations of oneness into an interconnected, communicating whole.

2.The Mind/Body Connection

The body and psyche are interdependent and inseparable in disease and in health. Both have the ability to self-heal or to creatively compensate in the presence of disease, illness, or injury. Trusting the ability of the body and psyche to self-heal forms the foundation of Osteopathic clinical practice.

3.The Equilibrium of Structure and Function

The relationship between anatomic structure and physiologic function impacts the overall health of the entire body. Structure and function are interdependent and inseparable in disease and in health.

4.Knowing Normal—That is the Answer

To fully understand abnormal conditions (disease, illness, or injury) the structure and function of what is normal for human beings in general, and for each patient in particular, must be understood. Normal is an expression of health.

5.Finding the Health

The objective in Osteopathic Treatment is not just to identify and treat disease, but also to also find what is healthy and utilize the biologic field of health to actively engage a therapeutic process.

6.Material and Nonmaterial—Visible and Invisible

There are two distinct and interrelated ways of perceiving during Osteopathic diagnosis and treatment. The material field is tangible and contains the biomechanical elements that are formed by the palpable anatomy and physical functions that are objective and can be measured. The non-material field is invisible and refers to the subjective bioenergetic elements that underlie the material form. The non-material field is the expression of subtle functions or inherent forces. The material and non-material fields coexist simultaneously and are unified in a dynamic state of connected oneness.


The Osteopathic Method of Clinical Action

A.Find it . . . The Osteopathic Method of Diagnosis

7.Diagnosis and Treatment: A Palpatory Dialogue

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment utilizes a dynamic therapeutic approach uniting diagnosis with treatment and re-evaluation. The treatment process evolves based upon the body’s response, or lack of response to a progression of custom-made inquiries that advance the patient toward health and an expression of holism.

8.Anatomic Specificity: Knowing the Human Architecture

A precise anatomic diagnosis is made using hands-on palpation of the body. A detailed anatomic diagnosis is clinically relevant and utilized to design a patient-specific, dynamic Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment plan.

9.Musculoskeletal System: Anatomic and Physiologic Laws

The musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles, and connective tissues) has a unique structure and function that impacts the overall health of the entire organism. When the musculoskeletal system fails to perform normally, the entire organism may suffer a localized or generalized disorder.

10.Fluids: The Great Rivers of Life

An Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment promotes healthy blood and lymphatic flow, enhances the exchange of extracellular fluids, and improves the function of cerebrospinal fluid.

11.Nervous System: The Power of Unobstructed Nerves

Impairments of nerve function are specifically addressed by alleviating obstructions, impingements, irritations, or overstimulation of nerves by the application of an anatomically specific Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

12.The Visceral Connection

Visceral dysfunctions can be addressed either by specifically working with individual organs or by treating the viscera secondarily by promoting enhanced blood and lymphatic flow, alleviating impairments of nerve function, or removing musculoskeletal obstructions to normal function.

13.The Cycles of Cause and Effect–That is the Question

Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment works to discover the cause of disease, illness, or injury rather than just treating the effects or dysfunctional compensations. Layers of cause and effect may be present creating interconnected dysfunctions that lead to complicated clinical presentations.

14.Pain = Effect

Pain is an effect and a symptom, not a disease. If pain is exclusively treated, and there is a failure to arrive at the origins of what is causing pain, then the therapeutic actions are limited. The causes of pain are often distant from the symptoms.

B.Fix it . . . The Osteopathic Method of Treatment

15.Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT)

Structural or functional disturbances of any system of the body are treated by the application of a patient-specific, dynamic Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. Every patient is unique and each treatment is individualized matching a person’s moment-to-moment distinctive clinical necessity. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is not merely the application of a technique used as a modality. Osteopathic philosophy and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment are interdependent and inseparable.

C. Leave it alone . . . The Essential Osteopathic Trust in Self-Healing

16.Restoration of Motion: Quantity and Quality

Restoration of motion informs Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment. Physical or material motion restrictions coexist with subtle or nonmaterial motion restrictions and are treated using a patient-specific, dynamic Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment.

17.Self-Healing and Creative Compensation

The goal of an Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is to enhance the natural ability to self-heal, or to creatively compensate by augmenting the local and global health of the body by removing the obstructions to normal structure and function.


The Inner Life of the Osteopath

18.Clinical Curiosity: The Science of Inquiry

Osteopathy, as an art and science is progressive and evolving. Expanding Osteopathic skills requires a dedication to life long learning and a commitment to an integrated way of thinking based upon the practicality of scientific method combined with insight based upon developing perceptual expertise.

19.The Consciousness of the Osteopath

The consciousness of the Osteopath influences perceptual abilities and the overall quality of treatment. The attention and intention of the Osteopath are interrelated at all levels of diagnosis and treatment.

20.The Inner Life of the Osteopath

Each Osteopath cultivates a personal self-reflective practice and draws upon this inner work to provide an intimately interconnected Osteopathic Treatment.

* Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) introduced the Osteopathic system of health care in 1874 and opened the first Osteopathic medical school in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.


    To find health should be the object of the doctor. 
   Anyone can find disease.

    Find it, Fix it, and Leave it alone.

    Andrew Taylor Still
    Founder of Osteopathy