Osteopathy or ‘osteopathic medicine‘ is a manual medical treatment that has its roots in the USA in the 19th century. The founder and father of osteopathy was Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, an American surgeon. He discovered in his daily practice that a huge number of conditions and symptoms were caused by dysfunctions of the organs and the musculoskeletal system. He developed his own manual diagnostics and therapies to remove these symptoms. In the course of the following decades down to the present day, osteopathic medicine has been developed and taught by endowed doctors and therapists.

In Germany, osteopathic medicine is not a method of medical treatment governed by the regulations for specialist training of the medical associations. However, the medical associations took account of the extensive application of osteopathy in manual medicine so that they integrated osteopathic methods and conceptual models at least in part under the additional term of, manual medicine.

In Germany, Osteopathy is practiced by physicians, physiotherapists and non-medical practitioners/natural health professionals. The training is standardised only by associations. The leading associations for medical osteopathic medicine have defined a common German standard of the skills that an ‘osteopathic physician’ has to acquire for obtaining an approved formal degree.

These criteria are stipulated in a position paper and are recognised by the World Health Organisation WHO and the Osteopathic International Alliance, the world’s largest osteopathy association.

The German Society for Chirotherapy and Osteopathy, of which I became chairman in 2005, has decisively helped to advance the process of recognising medical osteopathy in Germany and internationally. The German Society for Chirotherapy and Osteopathy grants the specialists who finished at least 4 years of formal education the title ‘M.D.O’., i. e. Medical Doctor of Osteopathy – DGCO. Doctors who acquired this formal degree are qualified accordingly to perform top-level osteopathy. The other German medical associations represented in the European Register for Osteopathic Physicians are training physicians in osteopathy by comparable quality directives and confer appropriate formal degrees.


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