Osteopathy has been recognized in France by a law passed in 2012 (link). Decrees dated 2007 and 2014 regulate practice and education (links). Osteopathy in France is therefore a fully regulated activity.
Patients may visit an osteopath without being referred by a doctor. It is up to the osteopath to decide whether or not his-her patient needs to see another healthcare practitioner. Nevertheless, osteopaths need a certificate from a doctor to be allowed to practice manipulations on babies under 6 months and on cervical spine. However, they may practice mobilizations without such a certificate.
Osteopathy is defined as follow by the health minister (link).
Definition of osteopathy
An osteopath uses a systemic approach, and, after having realized an osteopathic diagnosis, realizes mobilizations and manipulations to fix osteopathic dysfunctions of human body.
The aim of these manipulations and mobilizations is to prevent or treat these dysfunctions in order to maintain or improve persons’ state of health of patients, excepted in cases of organic diseases which need a therapeutic, medical, surgical, drug or physical intervention.
Definition of osteopathic diagnose
Osteopathic diagnosis includes an appropriateness diagnosis and a functional diagnosis:
Definition of osteopathic dysfunction
Somatic system components mobility, viscoelasticity or texture deterioration.
It may be accompanied by painful sensitivity.
Definition of osteopathic manipulation and mobilization
A manipulation is a unique, fast and low amplitude movement given directly or indirectly on a dysfunctional somatic system component in order to restore its mobility, viscoelasticity or texture characteristics. Manipulations gets this component beyond its dynamic range as observed during examination, without overtaking the anatomical limits.
Given on a joint or a group of joints, it may be accompanied by a crack noise (cavitation phenomenon) which therefore is not a sign and has no prognosis value.
Mobilization is a passive movement, sometimes repetitive, of various velocity and amplitude, given on a dysfunctional somatic system component.
Only people graduated in osteopathy by a school accredited by French health minister may practice osteopathy after having been registered by local sanitary authorities.
More than 30,000 osteopaths are currently registered in France, among them 22,000 ‘only’ osteopaths, 10,000 physiotherapists/osteopaths, 1,500 physicians/osteopaths.
A student needs to achieve 4,860 hours of training in osteopathy to become an osteopath.
These hours are divided as follows:
24 criteria are required for all training institutions, regardless of the student background (previous health professional qualification or not):
Osteopathy is very popular in France. A survey proceeded in September 2015 by an independent body showed that 27 % of French citizens had received an osteopathic treatment during the last year, 49 % during the last 5 years. 88 % trusted in osteopaths for providing safe treatments.