Does Osteopathic Medicine actually Help those Who Suffer from Chronic Pain?

Osteopathy, a form of alternative healthcare, involves gentle manipulation and repositioning of joints into more appropriate positions in terms of its philosophical considerations. Its intent is to  ease stressed muscles and the massage of the softer tissue areas for those with strained and painful backs. However, it is not the entire answer to sore backs but it is an excellent complementary therapy, to medication and orthopaedic support.  For those who suffer from chronic pain, you may be wondering whether or not osteopathic therapy works or if it’s just a waste of money.  Continue reading to see the results of a recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine…


How does osteopathy differ form chiropractic care?

According to one top osteopath at the University of North Texas Health Science Center:

“the osteopathic approach is different, from chiropractic care, for example, in that it takes a more overarching view, so you wouldn’t necessarily restrict your examination or treatment to the lower back.”

Research study on the effectiveness of osteopathic therapy and ultrasound treatment:

Researchers at North Texas set out to analyze the extent of the benefits osteopathic therapy and ultrasound treatment. The latter is the latest means often used by physiotherapists on mainly muscle trauma. The research was done on a large number of patients, 455. These people had chronic back pain and were randomly placed in therapy for a total of e weeks. Half had phoney, placebo treatment, while the other half had the real McCoy. All subjects in this latest study had the same therapy program: A regime of six sessions spread evenly over 2 months, with plenty of recovery time in between.

Study results:

Several weeks after the research period all patients were reviewed. More than 6 out of every 10 of those who had had the genuine osteopathic treatment told the researchers of ‘moderate’ alleviation of their aches and pains. While and 5 out of 10 said they felt 50% better, or in terms of the reporting showed ‘substantial improvement’. This was in stark contrast to the people in the placebo group. Less than 5 out 10, or 46 percent of these said they had moderate relief and just over 3 out of 10 reported the substantial improvement.

Ultrasound therapy disappoints…

The full outcome of this study can be seen in the Annals of Family Medicine. They indicate the ultrasound therapy is far from an effective treatment for this kind of condition. In fact it could be linked to virtually no long term pain relief. But it was also true that neither therapy helped people to improve their whole health situation or their on-going back difficulties.

Overall the study reaffirmed previous studies in concluding:

“The consensus on most of those studies, I think, is that spinal manipulative therapy is better than no treatment and has a modest benefit over a period of time, but is not substantially better than other types of treatment including pain medications (and) exercise recommendations.” According to experts at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The message for back pain sufferers is to consider giving osteopathy a try. An average price per session is around $100. You would have to check your health insurance to see if you are covered. There was the most pain relief for those who suffered most, in the study and these are of course the patients who would be facing the more invasive and costly treatments anyway.

A typical osteopathic manipulation session costs about $100, and may or may not be covered by insurance.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

One thought on “Does Osteopathic Medicine actually Help those Who Suffer from Chronic Pain?

  • May 15, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Been looking into osteopathic therapy recently. Good read!


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