Physical treatments have been found to be effective in treating musculoskeletal problems in the human field (UK BEAM trial, 2004). Osteopathy is one such beneficial treatment, (Williams, Wilkinson, Russell , Edwards, Linck, Hibbs, 2003) which has been applied to musculoskeletal dysfunction in horses. (Colles, Pusey, 2003).
Osteopathy as a medical philosophy was developed in the 1880s by Andrew Taylor Still, a doctor from the American mid–west. Dr Still was disillusioned with medical practice at that time when treatments such as bleeding, purgatives and emetics were common practice. Instead, his anatomical studies led him to envisage a system of the healing art, which placed chief emphasis on the structural integrity of the body as being most important in the well being of the organism. In other words, if the structure is normal, then the body can function at optimum levels (Still, 1902). This still forms the basis of the osteopathic philosophy, though the ground breaking new discoveries over the succeeding 125 years have brought a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underpinning this form of treatment (Kuchera, Kuchera, 1992).