Definition.—Osteopathy is the science and art of healing and curing disease without the use of knife or drugs.

Discovery.—It was discovered by Dr. A. T. Still, of Baldwin, Kansas, in 1874.

Principles.—According to osteopathy a natural flow of blood is health. Disease is the effect of disturbance of the blood flow either in one portion of the body or all over.

Requirements of Osteopathy.—Osteopathy demands an exact and most thorough knowledge of the anatomy or structure of the human body. It requires an intimate acquaintance with physiology or the functions of the various tissues, fluids and organs. Added to this is a comprehensive study of psychology or the workings of the mind. It also includes a knowledge of the chemistry and physics of the human mechanism.

Nature Herself Can Cure.—By a study of the above, osteopathy claims to have discovered certain laws of nature and methods of cure within the body itself. By the application of these methods, according to osteopathic practice, nature, herself, may remove the disease and cause the body to again regain its health and strength. This occurs not from any stimulation caused by drugs, but in accordance with certain mechanical principles residing in the body itself.

The Body a Machine.—Osteopathy regards the body as a wonderful mechanism, and treats it as an intelligent machinist would treat a complicated machine with which he was perfectly familiar.

The Human System Perfect.—The human system is regarded as being perfect. Man is believed to have been created complete, having within himself the power to regain health and vigor. Were such not the case, it is argued, the human body would be incomplete, and man would have to look outside for the relief of disease.

By an exhaustive study of the anatomy or structure, and the physiology or functions of this human body, it is observed that man is a complete being, capable of performing his own physical and mental acts when in health.

Disease is regarded as simply disorders. To restore health, the disordered parts must be corrected.

Drugs Harmful.—Osteopathy believes the giving of drugs for the cure of human ills to be both unreliable and unscientific. It absolutely denies the curative properties of drugs. So regards the whole system of drug treatment as unnatural and destructive to health.

Disease Not an Entity.—The osteopath does not look upon disease as a definite enemy which must be attacked by some foreign force. Disease is regarded as a disorder of the normal structure of a part, causing some disorder of the normal function of the body.

The Human Body a Perfect Machine.—The human body is looked upon as a perfect machine. Order is considered the first law of health. If in order, the human machine will do its work properly and run its allotted time.

What Osteopathy Does.—Osteopathy endeavors to discover and correct all mechanical disorders in the human machine, and to direct the recuperative power of nature within the body to the cure of disease. It claims that if there is an unobstructed nerve and blood supply to and from all parts of the well-fed man, the effects called disease will surely disappear.

Treatment.—The treatment is by manipulation. According to Dr. A. T. Still, exciting the nerves causes muscles to contract and compress venous flow of blood to the heart. The bones can be used as levers to relieve pressure on nerves, veins and arteries.

Object of Osteopathy.—The object of osteopathy is to permit a perfect freedom of all fluids, forces and substances pertaining to life. It endeavors to restore the harmonious action of all the parts, which must ensue when they are unirritated by any cause. It aims to maintain the complete circuit of the motor, sensory and sympathetic nerves.

Cause of Disease.—The cause of the disease, according to osteopathy, may be a dislocated or subdislocated bone, ligament, cartilage or muscle, causing an inhibition or irritation of a nerve fibre or an obstruction of an artery, vein, lymphatic or some fluid of the body. This results in disorder to the part of the body to which the affected nerve or vessel is distributed or connected.

These osteopathic disorders are not necessarily surgical dislocations, but are parts out of line, out of proper adjustment. They comprise slight displacements of various structures, chiefly bones and ligaments, with muscular contractions, little adhesions, contractions from cold, irritation or other outside influences, causing unnatural pressure upon vessels or nerves.

Osteopathic Examination.—The patient is examined from the physical standpoint. In the eyes of the osteopath he is a machine out of order. By his knowledge of the details of the human machine, when in health, the osteopath feels able to detect the disorders that are present in disease.

Through a highly developed sense of touch and a knowledge of anatomy, the osteopath claims to be able to discover the slightest anatomical disorder. The conditions present and the symptoms shown are used as clues to find the cause of the disease. By means of these signs and symptoms the nerve supply of the diseased part is traced to its origin and the course of the blood channels is followed from the parts diseased to the exact region where the abnormal condition is caused. When the primary lesion, or the point where the disease is caused, is located, treatment begins.

Osteopathic Treatment.—The object of treatment is to aid nature in reestablishing the normal activities of the diseased part.

The mode of treatment is a scientific manipulation by which the dislocation is reduced and the disorder relieved. The manipulation is based on the physical laws governing the actions of the human machine.

The osteopath applies the mechanical principle which is indicated in each separate case. Every move made by him in treatment is with the definite purpose of correcting the anatomical disorders.

Probably the best description of osteopathy was that given by J. Martin Littlejohn, Ph. D., LL. D., F. S. S. C. and F. R. S. L., in an address before the Royal Society of Literature, London. Dr. Littlejohn says:.

"Osteopathy is based on accurate knowledge of the anatomical structure and physiological functions of the body organism.

"Nature has placed within the body certain vital forces, vitalized fluids, and vitalizing processes and activities, which, in harmonious accord with one another, maintain the equilibrium of the body mechanism; any disturbance of these forces, fluids or processes and any interference with their activity, circulation or distribution involves the absence of harmony and interference with the body order.

"Osteopathic manipulations aim to restore these to their normal condition, so that the body may regain its normal functional equilibrium and form. In this way osteopathy claims that life is revitalized and strengthened by vital forces, vitalizing fluids and processses, disease being removed or overborne by getting rid of an abnormal structural alignment that produces disharmony in the body and prevents normal functional activity. . . .

Diagnosis.—"The osteopathic diagnosis is reduced to the discovery or attempted discovery of the cause or causes of a disease.

"Diagnostic conditions may be summarized under these heads:

"(1) Misplacements of bone, cartilage, ligament, muscle, membrane or organs of the body;

"(2) Disturbances in the fluids of the organism, including the blood, the lymph and other secretions of the body; and

"(3) Disorders or derangements by tension, inpingement, thickening, induration, and so forth, of the nervous system, including its centres, ganglia, plexuses and fibres.

Therapeutics.—"Following up this line of physiological thought the osteopathic therapeutics is simplified and will consist of the correction or the removal of the cause or causes of disease.

"Corresponding with the diagnostic points, we find:

"(1) Scientific manipulations that aim to correct displacements in the bony and other tissue structures of the body, in its membranes or organs;

"(2) Scientific manipulations that are designed to rectify the disturbances in the circulation of the body fluids and to restore them to their normal condition, especially blood conditions and defects in the blood circulation and distribution; and

"(3) Scientific manipulations that utilize the nervous system with its fibres, ganglia and centres with the view of correcting the nervous disorders, toning up the general system or its local parts, promoting trophic conditions of the nerves and muscles and stimulating a normal correlation of the psychic with the physiological and vegetative functions of the human system. . . .

The Essential Principles of Osteopathy.—"The essential principles of Osteopathy may be set down thus,

"(1) Health is natural; disease and death between the time of birth and old age is unnatural;

"(2) All bodily disorders are the result of mechanical obstruction to free circulation of the vital fluids and forces, and the continuity of nerve forces.

"(3) The impediments in the way of free fluid circulation and uninterrupted nerve force are found in osseous displacements, contracted muscles, ruptured ligaments, constricted or dilated vessels, hypertrophied tissue substance or congested conditions of the tissues.

"(4) These abnormal conditions represent not only the change, in structure or function on the part of particular portions of the organism but also produce physiological disorganization of the vital forces of the body, producing an irritable condition either of overstimulation, understimulation or inhibition resulting in excessive activity, partial activity or inactivity of the vital forces and processes.

"(5) In the restoration to the normal the main purpose in operative manipulation is to coordinate the vital forces, to restore harmony in the vital functions and thus aid nature in the elimination and checking of diseased conditions."


In etiology, symptoms and prognosis osteopathy does not differ from the other schools. It is in diagnosis and treatment that osteopathy stands alone.

To illustrate the practical workings of the osteopathic therapeutics the treatment of a few of the more common conditions are given as contained in "Notes on Osteopathic Therapeutics," by C. P. McConnell, D. 0., Lecturer on Osteopathy at the American School of Osteopathy, Kirksville, Mo.


"In the treatment of fever, which is only a symptom of disease, it should be remembered that the germ of disease lies in the fascia, and it is our work to abort this germ at whatever point it may be found in the fascia. An affected fascia produces the nourishment of disease. Our work is to control the artery to the affected region that is producing the fever and then quiet the efferent nerves to the heart at the occiput.

"In restoring the equilibrium of the blood pressure it must be borne in mind: That stimulation of the vaso-motor centre, especially through the superior cervical ganglion of the sympathetic, increases the heart's action and blood pressure, while an inhibition lessens the heart's action and blood pressure. That through the cervical region we at least control the cutaneous vascular system of the upper portion of the body and at the fifth lumbar the blood supply to the legs.

"That the splanchnics are capable of controlling a large proportion of the blood of the body and perhaps the venal splanchnics to the supravenal capsules influences to some extent the heat of the body.

"That relaxing the tissues about the abdominal aorta will dilate that vessel and thus aid in reducing the blood pressure.

"That relaxing the tissues about the ureters and opening them freely will be of great service in the elimination of waste fever products through the kidneys.

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"Examine the condition of the spine thoroughly. The muscles in places are apt to become contracted owing to increased nerve force to the centres that supply the parts. This will give a clue to the treatment. Inhibition of the nerve force along the spine at the affected points will usually do the required work. That is, thorough inhibition, relaxing contracted muscles and correcting abnormal vertebras.

"Open up the mesenteric circulation as in all cases of bowel trouble.

"Some cases of diarrhoea originate in the sympathetic and spinal nerves of the rectum. Give treatment over the sacral nerve to remove the irritation.

"The lower ribs from the ninth to the twelfth can become subluxated and irritate certain nerves that have no important bearing upon the intestines. I have corrected several cases of diarrhoea by replacing certain ribs in this region, especially on the right side.

"Remember that the vagi have an important relation to the blood supply and motor nerve force of the intestines. Daily hot baths and rest in bed with activity of the skin and kidneys will be of great aid in many cases.


"Trace the course of the nerve back to the origin from where the stitch or affection is produced and remove the irritation. In the beginning one should find no difficulty in relieving the sufferer. It is a matter of correcting a disturbance of the sympathetic or phrenic nerves through the intercostal and phrenic nerves.

"Relieve obstruction of the intercostals and the internal mammary arteries from their branching of the aorta and subclavian vessels.

"By removing obstruction to these vessels will prevent the exudation. The obstruction usually comes from the subluxations of the ribs due to injuries or by contractions of the thoracic muscles by catching cold."

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