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Scope of Osteopathic Practice

Osteopathy places great emphasis on the body's ability to recover spontaneously when it has a chance.

Hence Osteopathic Scope of Practice can be summarised by saying; it depends on the causes of problems, and the obstacles to recovery. And that requires an individual appraisal in every case.

Scope of Practice is not limited to certain specific conditions, certain parts of the body, or certain techniques. It depends partly on the resources of each Osteopath, and partly on the patient's motivation.

If the obstacles to recovery are too great for the practitioner to change, then the problem is outside his scope.

On the other hand, the solutions to some very serious conditions can be simple (eg scurvy). Hence, scope does not depend on the severity of the condition - it is about whether practical measures can be found to make the situation better.

ASA and scope of practice

The Advertising Standards Authority does not regulate what Osteopaths do, but it does regulate what may be claimed in advertising material. It is prohibited to make claims for conditions without evidence of effectiveness. The Osteopath may still attempt to help, with the consent of patients, but must not do anything to mislead them.

However, the emphasis on conditions is itself misleading. 'Back Pain' is a common condition, but it can have many varied causes; some easy to treat, others impossible. Hence, the term 'Back Pain' says little about whether an individual case can be treated, or how.

Furthermore, the pool of accepted evidence is actually very small. This is because the expense of clinical trials is a problem for such a small industry. Nevertheless, Osteopaths have huge numbers of satisfied patients.

So on several levels it would be misleading even to say that Osteopathy can help back pain: but it would be equally misleading to say that it can't. And there are many other examples.