Osteopathy is a philosophy and an alternative medical practice which emphasizes the interrelationship between structure and function of the body and recognizes the body’s ability to heal itself; it is the role of the osteopath to facilitate that process, principally by the practice of manual and manipulative therapy.The American Osteopathic Association recommends using the terms osteopathic physician and osteopathic medicine to distinguish individuals trained in osteopathic medicine in the United States who have attained the degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.), a degree equivalent to that of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), who practice the full scope of medicine and receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative medicine from individuals described as osteopaths who use osteopathy, the restricted-scope form of practice outside of North America.Osteopaths trained outside of the US are generally limited in practice to non-invasive manual therapies,as well as providing nutritional, postural, and other health advice. Like their American counterparts, non-US osteopaths are primary contact health care practitioners. They are usually trained at bachelors or masters level in the biomedical sciences and general medical diagnosis, with the addition of osteopathic techniques, but without pharmacology and surgery. Osteopathic treatment is generally considered complementary to mainstream medicine. Medical physicians may go on to qualify as an osteopath and vice-versa. Despite this, some osteopathic physicians in the United States use the term osteopath.There is an international organization for individuals, the World Osteopathic Health Organization (WOHO), which permits membership by both “restricted scope manual therapist” osteopaths and “full scope of medical practice” osteopathic physicians. Similarly, there is also an international organization of organizations for national osteopathic and osteopathic medical associations, statutory regulators, and universities/medical schools offering osteopathic and osteopathic medical education, known as the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA).
The use of osteopathy is not always based on science, and there is little evidence that osteopathy is effective in treating any medical condition except for lower back pain.