Vancouver Osteopathy Centre

About Osteopathy

In This Section:

Definition and overview

Definition: The word osteopathy originates from two Greek words, “osteone” which means structure and “pathos” which means pain.

Osteopathy is a natural medicine and science based on the principles that the structure of the body affects how it will function, and that it functions as a unified whole. On a practical level, this means that problems in any one part of the body will affect all the other parts because all tissues and systems are connected.

History of Osteopathy

“The starting point of medicine is further back in history; the starting point of Osteopathy is further back in nature (E.E. Tuker, DO).”

History of OsteopathyOsteopathy was developed in the 1800’s by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in the United States. In 1864, he became discouraged with allopathic medicine when he lost three of his own children to meningitis. He spent the next ten years searching for a drugless, more natural, hands-on approach to medicine which he eventually named osteopathy.

The Society for the Promotion of Manual Practice Osteopathy is a society of manual osteopaths in British Columbia. Due to recent government legislation in British Columbia, members have decided to call themselves Osteopathic Practitioners in order to distinguish themselves from Osteopathic Physicians. Osteopathic practitioners are not medical doctors and treat patients using the traditional hands-on or manual techniques only.

Osteopathy Education in Canada

Graduates of the Canadian College of Osteopathy(CCO) receive a Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice DO(MP).

The CCO was first established in Montreal, Quebec and expanded to form the Canadian College of Osteopathy (CCO) in Toronto in 1991. The CCO now has schools in Vancouver and Halifax.

The CCO offers an intensive, five year, part-time programme consisting of clinical and academic study in osteopathic manual techniques. The course is open to candidates who already hold a university degree in a health science or to health professionals. A thesis is required at the end of the programme which must accepted by an International Jury of Osteopaths in order to be granted the title DO(MP).



Osteopathic Treatment – DescriptionAbout Osteopathy

Osteopathy is beneficial in reducing musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction.  Osteopathic treatment aims to restore optimal health by promoting joint mobility, better posture, nerve function and circulation, which in turn improves organ function like digestion and elimination. It does this through a variety of gentle, hands-on techniques.

“Osteopathic treatment is prophylactic because the physical defects in the anatomical structure may be discovered long before they begin to create much disturbance in function (O.E. Smith, DO).”

Osteopathy includes three basic methods of treatment: structural, craniosacral and visceral manipulation.

Structural Techniques

Structural Techniques mobilise joints and release restrictions and tension in muscles, ligaments and fascia. Functional techniques allows for a restricted segment of the body to be drawn further in the direction it prefers to move until the tension of the tissues holding it there melt and the segment is free to move in all directions. Muscle Energy Technique is based on the premise that muscle tension restricts a joint’s ability to move in all directions and uses muscle contraction and relaxation to achieve a release.  

Fascia is a continuous system of connective tissue which envelopes muscles, organs, nerves, blood vessels, and infiltrates bones. Fascia can become short or adherent to other structures with trauma, inflammation and poor posture. Due to its continuous nature throughout the body, an area of fascial tension like a scar can create pain or discomfort in seemingly unrelated areas of the body. There are numerous osteopathic myofascial techniques.

“The fascia is the place to look for the cause of disease and the place to consult and begin the action of remedies in all diseases (A.T. Still, DO).”

Joint mobilisations and osteoarticular techniques aim to restore mobility, improved nerve function and circulation to a restricted joint. The technique is performed by combining many parameters of movement to create a cumulative barrier and at that point applying an energetic impulse into the restriction.

Craniosacral TherapyCraniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy enhances circulation and nerve conduction and can remove patterns of strain anywhere in the body. The craniosacral rhythm is a subtle rocking motion caused by the production of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. When the CSF is produced the brain expands, creating a tension on the dura (envelope surrounding the central nervous system), which pulls on the bones of the head causing them to move slightly. The tension created in the dura at one end is transmitted all along the spinal cord inferiorly to the other end, causing the sacrum to rock gently.

“The cerebrospinal fluid is the highest known element that is contained in the human body, and unless the brain furnishes this fluid in abundance a disabled condition of the body will remain (A.T. Still, DO).”

Visceral Manipulation

Visceral ManipulationThere are gentle treatment techniques for all the viscera (or organs) such as the liver, stomach, kidneys, uterus, bladder and colon. All organs normally have some mobility in response to the body moving and in response to their own metabolism and other bodily functions. Restrictions caused by surgeries, scars, infections, immobile joints and altered nerve conduction can impair the functioning of the organ. Osteopathic manipulation can bring about an improvement in function by restoring some measure of proper motion.

“All diseases are mere effects, the cause being a partial or complete failure of the nerves to properly conduct the fluids of life (A.T. Still, DO).”

Note: It is important that you speak with your medical doctor for the complete diagnosis of any medical condition.


Call us: 604.732.0606

Vancouver Osteopathy Centre - Online Booking system

Our practitioners:


"I had been in chronic pain from a head trauma and whiplash. After seeing Caryn, I’m starting to do things again that I haven’t done in years. I feel like I have my life back."

- Patti L.

“If it weren’t for Deirdre and her magic hands I wouldn’t be as mobile as I am….If anyone can help you it’s [her].”

- Joanne C.

Did you know?

Osteopathic practitioners in Canada study for 5 years and then must complete a thesis which usually takes at least another 2 years.

Osteopathic practitioners develop very sensitive palpation skills that enable them to detect the subtleties of disturbed tissue or rhythms in the body.