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Osteopathy is effective

People with low back pain may benefit from a hands-on treatment known as osteopathic manual therapy more than they do from ultrasound therapy.

A study published yesterday in the Annals of Family Medicine suggests that osteopathic manual therapy leads to short-term pain relief for patients with low back pain. During treatment, an osteopath will move muscles and joints with stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance.

The study included more than 450 people split into four groups: osteopathic manual therapy, sham (or “fake”) osteopathic manual therapy, ultrasound, or sham ultrasound.

They were all given six treatment sessions over 8 weeks.

After 12 weeks, half of the osteopathic manual therapy group reported substantial improvement. Nearly two-thirds in the osteopathic manual therapy group reported moderate improvement.

By contrast, 44% of those in the ultrasound group showed substantial improvement. Just over half reported moderate improvement.

The researchers at The Osteopathic Research Center in Fort Worth, Texas write that these results show that ultrasound therapy was not effective in relieving low back pain and conclude that  ‘the osteopathic manual therapy regimen met or exceeded the Cochrane Back Review Group criterion for a medium effect size in relieving chronic low back pain. It was safe, parsimonious, and well accepted by patients.”