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What is osteopathy?


Osteopathy is a patient-centered approach to health. It is guided by principles relating to the patient as a whole. The body is a self-regulating, functional unit in which function and structure are inter-related, and healthy tissues require proper circulation of all body fluids.

Skilled palpation and a detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics guide the Osteopath to assess and restore balance within and between all the systems of the body; musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, cranial and visceral.

In health, the body seeks to maintain a balance within and between these systems. The Osteopath uses a wide array of manual approaches to reduce and resolve strains, stress and dysfunction in all areas of the body. The goal is to remove restrictions to vascular, neural and biomechanical mechanisms and ultimately support the natural healing mechanism by promoting autoregulation.

The history of osteopathy in Canada


Dr Andrew Taylor Still, the father of osteopathy

Osteopathy was introduced as a science, philosophy and practice by Andrew Taylor Still, MD in the 1870’s. Disheartened with his tools during a deadly meningitis outbreak, Still began developing a manual, patient centered approach. Many osteopaths since Still have contributed their life’s work to Osteopathy – as a science and a practice.

There are two streams of osteopathy recognized internationally, a medical stream of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, and a manual stream of Osteopaths

Canada represents a unique situation as it is one of a few countries world wide in which both streams of osteopathy are represented within the different provinces/territories. Currently, the medical stream of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons falls under the legislation and licensure of the individual provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons.

Individual associations represent Osteopaths provincially. The Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO) in turn, represents these provincial/territorial associations nationally. The CFO maintains membership in the international body, the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA). The purpose of the OIA is to advance the practice of manual osteopathy and osteopathic medicine throughout the world.

Osteopathic Physicians have a long history in Canada, dating back to the turn of the last century

Despite small numbers they obtained medical practice rights for physicians who graduated from the United States (US) medical schools, approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). As a result, in certain provinces, the title “Osteopath” is reserved for graduates of US medical schools only. Due to increasing numbers of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners in Canada, there is a growing need for provincial governments to recognize both streams.

The introduction of manual stream in Canada

An osteopath from France introduced the manual stream of Osteopathy to Canada in 1981 opening the first traditional Manual Osteopathy college in Montreal, Quebec. Osteopathy then opened branches in Toronto in 1992 and Halifax and Vancouver in 2002 and 2004 respectively.

Since then a number of independent osteopathic institutions have been established across Canada.

Osteopathic research


The international Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR) has merged with The Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (INCAM) and held its first Canadian Conference in Toronto in November 2016. For more information on Osteopathic research follow this link.

Osteopathy may help with chronic pain

Osteopathic treatments would directly or indirectly alleviate chronic pain resulting from musculoskeletal disorders, according to René Pelletier, de l’UdeM.

Special Interest Group for Osteopathic Research – SIG

Osteopaths, if you are interested in:

Sharing your research work

Learning about the most recent research in osteopathy and in different CAM

Collaboration with other researchers, teachers and clinicians all over the country

Osteopathy SIG is for you!

Osteopaths from all over the country, research supervisors and teachers from the COQ and CCO, students from different Canadian schools of osteopathy, as well as manual therapists, health care practitioners, researchers and consumers of osteopathic service can all benefit from membership. This SIG is an organization that supports research in osteopathy in Canada and promotes the diffusion of research. Osteopath-clinicians, teachers and students of different schools of osteopathy who have conducted research projects can access research methodologies and scientific gathering events to diffuse their results.

The activities we engage in organizing

Research meetings

Workshops or pre symposium activities

Student poster contests

Webinars on research methodology

The development of a list of research resources and methodology resources

Posting of new research publication in the osteopathic field on the website

The new Osteopathy SIG is committed to

Promoting knowledge transfer (research to clinic and clinic to research)

Initiating the development of a research task force about osteopathy in Canada

Fostering collaboration and networking with other complementary approach in the research field

Creating a Canadian scientific osteopathic community

Helping osteopaths (clinicians and students) in initiating and participating in research projects

Become a member

To become an Osteopathy SIG member, please email the group co-leads: Chantal Morin or Nathalie Trottier.