The origin of Bonesetting is, for the most part, lost in the mists of time. In the west the earliest evidence is from about 400 BC when Hippocrates and other Greek doctors treated fractures and dislocations. They were also innovative in the correction of partial dislocations and the use of herbs. The Greeks became the doctors of The Roman Empire and continued to practise even after the fall of the Roman Empire.

In the United Kingdom, Unified Bonesetters Limited (UBL), regulates the profession and has introduced various initiatives such as the promoting of safe treatments and validating courses. Entry as a practising professional onto UBL's list is via having an existing qualification in manipulation or by attending and successfully completing a UBL validated course. All approved professionals must have valid malpractice insurance.

In other parts of the world the practice of bonesetting has been used in community medicine and martial arts.

The modern practice of bonesetting in the UK does not include the adjustment of joint dislocations and skeletal fractures.

Bonesetting is the family head of the developed professions such as chiropractic, osteopathy, orthopaedics and physiotherapy as these professions use, to some degree, manipulation and skeletal adjustments and bonesetting preceded their formation.