Scope of Practice

Historically osteopaths worked with patients suffering from a variety of 'medical conditions' such as infection, tumours, various diseases and pains from many causes. Early practice was a long way from the 'low back pain' image that many modern osteopaths practice under.

However, current healthcare does not provide all patients with complete answers to their problems and osteopaths have many hypotheses about they may be able to help support patients with a variety of conditions beyond low back pain. 

Scope of Practice

Many people have heard of the term 'visceral osteopathy' thinking that to help digestive problems (for example) it is essential to have your organs (viscera) manipulated;


or people may have the impression that all osteopaths who treat babies have to use 'cranial osteopathy'.


Both these impressions may be misleading.


If an osteopath is looking to help someone, a variety of approaches may be utilised, and only through a careful exploration with the patient can all the types of care needed be determined (such as breathing exercises, postural or diet advice, or choice of hands on technique - there are many 'non-cranial' gentle techniques available for infants for example).


The V and O aims to support osteopaths expand and refine their range of patient care approaches for a variety of presentation beyond 'back pain'.

Depth of Clinical Engagement and Evidence

It would not take much thought to agree with the idea that simply manipulating a joint in the spine is not going to cure all diseases instantly.

However, working with a person and their tissues (e.g. muscle, ligaments, fascia, blood vessels nerves and lymphatics for example) may be of value to a patient suffering from many 'medical 'problems. For example 'touch' is a therapeutic approach even for cancer patients, and simple massage and stretch may give pain relief in a variety of pain associated with medical problems, and perhaps improving posture and breathing can help respiratory recovery in certain instances. Understanding the outcome aimed at is critical to determining if a practitioner can help.


The V and O aims to support practitioners who are looking at where in the healthcare system they might be able to help. The evidence framework is extremely important when looking at 'atypical' fields of care in osteopathic practice and it is essential that research continues to critically appraise the various hypotheses that osteopaths have / seek to develop about the different types of patient care they are consdiering. The V and O is committed to the development of a sound and valid research base for practice.