The Fourth Principle

“Rational treatment is based upon the first three principles”

By Eleanor Andrews

The foundation of osteopathic practice is built on four key principles. The three principles we have discussed previously:

  • The Body is a Unit
  • Structure and function and reciprocally interrelated
  • The body contains self-healing and self-regulatory systems

The fourth principle is rational treatment based on these three principles.

These principles, which were established in 1953 as a result of AT Still’s works, provide an understanding of the key concepts he spoke about.

As osteopaths, we need to ensure that we examine our patients, both locally and globally. We need to observe the structure and function of the body, and identify any obstacles that may be preventing it from achieving optimal health. Only when we do this can we apply the fourth principle.

With these first three principles in mind, we can provide the best possible care to our patients and help them achieve lasting health and wellness.

By comprehending the functions of each part of the body, whether individually or within the whole system, we gain insight into how to collaborate with the animal effectively.

This knowledge empowers us to take preventive measures, make predictions, identify issues, and act as a catalyst for promoting the body’s return to a state of health.

We don’t cure or repair. Instead, we support the body’s natural healing process to achieve optimal health. Our focus is on facilitating the body’s natural healing processes to promote overall health. For example, we aim to alleviate any restrictions that may be hindering blood flow or cellular repair, as well as enhance lung and rib function to improve gaseous exchange and support cell metabolism. It is crucial to address both local issues, such as hip dysfunction, and their impact on the body as a whole, and consider all systems within the body, not just the musculoskeletal system.


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