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Manual Osteopathic Treatment Improves Chronic Back Pain

Patients report pain relief, but not improvements in back functioning or work disability

Manual Osteopathic Treatment Improves Chronic Back Pain

WEDNESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment of nonspecific chronic low back pain with osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) is associated with moderate or substantial improvements in low back pain, according to a study published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

John C. Licciardone, D.O., M.B.A., from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, and colleagues randomized 455 patients to receive OMT (230 patients) or sham OMT (225 patients) and to ultrasound therapy (UST; 233 patients) or sham UST (222 patients) in a 2 × 2 factorial design, for six treatment sessions over eight weeks.

The researchers found that there was no statistical interaction between OMT and UST. Compared with patients receiving sham OMT, patients receiving OMT were significantly more likely to achieve moderate (response ratio [RR], 1.38) and substantial (RR, 1.41) improvements in low back pain at week 12. Based on the Cochrane Back Review Group criterion these improvements were of a medium effect size. There was no difference for patients receiving OMT and sham OMT with regard to back-specific functioning, general health, work disability specific to low back pain, safety outcomes, and treatment adherence. Despite this, throughout the study, patients in the OMT group were significantly more likely to be very satisfied with their back care and used prescription drugs for low back pain less frequently than did patients in the sham OMT group (use ratio, 0.66; P = 0.048). Ultrasound therapy was not found to be efficacious.

"The OMT regimen was safe, parsimonious, and well accepted by patients as demonstrated by high levels of treatment adherence and satisfaction with back care," write the authors.

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