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A bonesetter is a practitioner of joint manipulation. Before the advent of chiropractors, osteopaths, and physical therapists, bonesetters were the main providers of this type of treatment.[1] Bonesetters would also reduce joint dislocations and 're-set' bone fractures.


Middle Ages

The Middle Ages development of bonesetters was within a body well regulated by the bonesetters guild, which served as a means of training, disciplining, adjudicating, and mastering its craft. The bonesetters guild records were held in Austria and surrounding towns, and were generally opposite the physicians guild, due to their closeness in cooperation.

The mainstay of the craft was seven-year apprenticeships by boys age 12–17, who lived within guild huts and traveled with master craftsmen to spend time with various teachers. It derived its training from the Roman and Greek "skeleton men", and the ancient Egyptian "men of the hands". They entered university training along with physicians four hundred years before medical practitioners. The bonesetters guild was present at the foundation year of the University of Notre Dame.

Later years

In Japan, bone-setting is known as sekkotsu. Other "lay" bonesetters still practice in some parts of the world.[2][3] The author, Evelyn Waugh, in his 1934 novel A Handful of Dust uses the term in the following passage: "If Brenda had to go to London for a day's shopping, hair-cutting, ore bone-setting (a recreation she particularly enjoyed), she went on Wednesday, because ..."[4]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Aries MJ, Joosten H, Wegdam HH, van der Geest S (2007). "Fracture treatment by bonesetters in central Ghana: patients explain their choices and experiences". Trop Med Int Health 12 (4): 564–74. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2007.01822.x. PMID 17445148. 
  3. ^ Huber BR, Anderson R (1996). "Bonesetters and curers in a Mexican community: conceptual models, status, and gender". Med Anthropol 17 (1): 23–38. doi:10.1080/01459740.1996.9966126. PMID 8757711. 
  4. ^ A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. Back Bay Books,New York, 1999. p.47.