Osteopathy is a safe and effective form of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of health problems. It uses manual therapy, exercise and advice, to promote the optimum environment for health, based on the individual needs of the patient.

Working life

Most osteopaths work as self-employed primary care practitioners in private practice, able to diagnosis and treat a wide range of health issues, although there are opportunities to work within the NHS and in secondary care.

They have expertise in the musculoskeletal system and its relationship to other systems of the body in the promotion of good health.

Osteopaths provide a package of care that includes a varied range of interventions specific to each patient, including:

Who would I work with?

Osteopaths are trained to work with patients of all ages. They are skilled at identifying a wide range of health conditions, and will refer to other healthcare professionals to achieve the best outcomes for the patient. A significant number of osteopaths work in private healthcare, working closely with other healthcare specialists.

Currently, the vast majority of osteopaths are self-employed although there are increasingly opportunities for osteopaths to work in the NHS in multidisciplinary musculoskeletal units, where they may work as part of a team including acupuncturists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychotherapists

Attractions and challenges of the role

Osteopaths are able to spend substantially more time with patients than most professionals in primary care, and many osteopaths value this opportunity to provide more comprehensive treatment.

Most osteopaths work for themselves, which attracts many people to the profession and allows for flexibility in how the role is undertaken and less restrictive career progression, but does come with the challenges associated with self-employment.

‘Osteopath’ is a protected title by law. All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council to be able to practise in the UK. 

Want to learn more?

Find out more about the entry requirements and training for osteopathy

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve Health Careers