In a recent article published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, a meta-analysis of 16 randomized control trials revealed the potential role of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) in treating chronic non-cancer pain. The study included 1158 patients to compare OMT with other treatment modalities including pharmacological treatments. OMT was also at times combined with structured exercise for analysis.
The results revealed several important points of consideration. First, utilization of OMT resulted in significantly reduced pain and disability as well as improved quality of life as compared to standard of care. The pain reduction remained significantly better than standard of care up to 8 weeks into treatment. Interestingly, when standard OMT was combined with visceral OMT, pain and disability were significantly reduced as compared to OMT alone. Finally, OMT + exercise resulted in significantly reduced pain for these patients. The conclusions reported in this particular study were determined to be moderate in strength.
This is significant because it bolsters the role of OMT as a viable evidence-based complementary health approach to chronic non-cancer musculoskeletal pain. The evidence base for OMT is indeed growing and demonstrating its potential to not only reduce pain, but to assist in decreasing disability and to improve quality of life by objective measures.
Another key point is brought to bear here from my perspective and that lies in the observation of significant improvement in pain and disability measures when exercise is combined with OMT. This is something that I as an osteopathic physician have known and preached for a long time and a key reason why very few of my patients escape the clinic without us addressing a structured exercise plan to not only reduce pain but to improve many key metrics that constitute functionality and quality of life. Remember one of my general rules that weak muscles are painful and strong muscles are not.
Finally, a bedrock holistic principle is bolstered in this article and that is that a combined approach to any problem tends to be superior to a singular approach. Every problem that presents almost always has numerous inputs of influence among such categories as injury, metabolic status, structural imbalance, emotional state, and environmental. Therefore, to adequately understand and address any condition, it behooves us to explore these potential inputs and to address as many as we reasonably can to our reasonable capacities.
I wish you all comprehensive health and wellness both today and in the days to come.
Reference: Rehman Y, Ferguson H, Bozek A, Blair J, Allison A, Johnston R. Osteopathic Manual Treatment for Pain Severity, Functional Improvement, and Return to Work in Patients With Chronic Pain. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2020;120(12):888–906.