Osteopathy is, worldwide, a long-established and well-respected area of complementary medicine. It is a "whole person" philosophy of medicine, where osteopaths endorse an approach that treats the entire person, rather than a specific complaint. Because the body is viewed as a single organism or unit, special focus is given to understanding body mechanics and the interrelationship of the body's components and systems. This understanding allows the osteopath to follow the dysfunctional chain that has led to the emergence of the symptom, and find and treat the cause of it. Apart from treating a broad range of conditions, attention is given to prevention, wellness, and helping the body to self-regulate in a more efficient way.
A particular emphasis is placed on the musculoskeletal system. Osteopathy is concerned with the manner in which the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system are integrated with the entire body physiology. By recognizing and addressing areas of tissue strain, stress or dysfunction, the abnormal neural, vascular and biochemical mechanisms can be treated. Osteopaths utilize gentle physical manipulations of the bones, muscles, connective tissue, organs, blood vessels, lymphatics and nervous tissue. Osteopathic treatment can be prescribed in conjunction with or as an alternative to conventional treatments, drug therapies, and surgery to provide complete health care.