Studies Find Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) Improves Chronic Low Back Pain

Studies published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association conclude that osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) reduces pain and improves function for people with chronic low back pain.  Study participants with the worst pain and highest degree of disability gained the most from OMT.

Two studies from a randomized double-blind, sham-controlled trial were used to determine how effective six OMT sessions over an eight week period were for people with low back pain.  Recovery was measured after 12 weeks using assessments including pain severity and functional status.  A total of 455 men and women between the ages of 21 and 69 with low back pain for at least three months were included in the trial.

The initial study was sought to measure whether OMT aided in recovery and the second study was intended to identify which participants benefited the most from the treatments.

The researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth found that participants with baseline disability scores of 17 or greater (scale 1-24) experienced substantial benefit, and those with initial scores of 7 or greater experienced moderate benefit.

Substantial benefit was defined as experiencing a 50% or more improvement the baseline pain and disability assessment.

“Subgrouping patients according to chronic low back pain intensity and function appears to be a simple strategy for identifying patients who can attain substantial improvement with OMT. From a cost and safety perspective, OMT should be considered before progressing to more costly or invasive interventions,” said John C. Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA.

The study concluded, “The OMT regimen was associated with significant and clinically relevant measures for recovery from chronic LBP. A trial of OMT may be useful before progressing to other more costly or invasive interventions in the medical management of patients with chronic low back pain.”

The study can be found here:

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