Osteopathy began as an intended reform to medicine of the day in the 1870’s by Andrew Still MD, a Missouri. After losing several family members during encephalitis epidemics, Still was motivated to reconsider the basis for medical therapy to bring them more in line with laws of nature. At that time medical treatment relied heavily on ineffective conventional drug therapy.

Still did extensive anatomic and physiologic study and developed treatment protocols consistent with his studies, termed osteopathic manipulation. He expressed himself in terms of mechanical and electrical principle consistent with the science of his day. As a result of his clinical success, he was encouraged to teach others his methods and in 1892 opened the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville Missouri. Success of his students lead to the rapid spawning of other schools.

Early political activity and response to the pressure for medical reform led American osteopaths to become licensed as physicians and progressively integrated a significant portion of medical science. Later activity in the 1950’s led to parity of osteopathic physicians with medical doctors. As a result, osteopaths are variable committed to the practice of the manual aspect of the tradition.