Osteopathy is a system of treatment based on theory that disease arises from the mechanical and structural disorder of the body skeleton. The concept was formulated by Andrew Still in 1874, and the first school of osteopathy was opened in Kirksville, Missouri, in 1892. Still's emphasis on treating the whole person remains an ideal of osteopathy.
Prevention and treatment are practiced by manipulation, often of the spinal column. Osteopathy can play an important role in the treatment of both chronic and cute musculoskeletal pain. However, its critics argue that it may be hazardous, especially to the spinal cord, and that it may lead to serious disease being overlooked. Osteopathy is perhaps best regarded as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, orthodox medicine.