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1.  Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Nonspecific back pain is common, disabling, and costly. Therefore, we assessed effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the management of nonspecific low back pain (LBP) regarding pain and functional status.
A systematic literature search unrestricted by language was performed in October 2013 in electronic and ongoing trials databases. Searches of reference lists and personal communications identified additional studies. Only randomized clinical trials were included; specific back pain or single treatment techniques studies were excluded. Outcomes were pain and functional status. Studies were independently reviewed using a standardized form. The mean difference (MD) or standard mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and overall effect size were calculated at 3 months posttreatment. GRADE was used to assess quality of evidence.
We identified 307 studies. Thirty-one were evaluated and 16 excluded. Of the 15 studies reviewed, 10 investigated effectiveness of OMT for nonspecific LBP, 3 effect of OMT for LBP in pregnant women, and 2 effect of OMT for LBP in postpartum women. Twelve had a low risk of bias. Moderate-quality evidence suggested OMT had a significant effect on pain relief (MD, -12.91; 95% CI, -20.00 to -5.82) and functional status (SMD, -0.36; 95% CI, -0.58 to -0.14) in acute and chronic nonspecific LBP. In chronic nonspecific LBP, moderate-quality evidence suggested a significant difference in favour of OMT regarding pain (MD, -14.93; 95% CI, -25.18 to -4.68) and functional status (SMD, -0.32; 95% CI, -0.58 to -0.07). For nonspecific LBP in pregnancy, low-quality evidence suggested a significant difference in favour of OMT for pain (MD, -23.01; 95% CI, -44.13 to -1.88) and functional status (SMD, -0.80; 95% CI, -1.36 to -0.23), whereas moderate-quality evidence suggested a significant difference in favour of OMT for pain (MD, -41.85; 95% CI, -49.43 to -34.27) and functional status (SMD, -1.78; 95% CI, -2.21 to -1.35) in nonspecific LBP postpartum.
Clinically relevant effects of OMT were found for reducing pain and improving functional status in patients with acute and chronic nonspecific LBP and for LBP in pregnant and postpartum women at 3 months posttreatment. However, larger, high-quality randomized controlled trials with robust comparison groups are recommended.
PMCID: PMC4159549  PMID: 25175885
Low back pain; Spinal manipulation; Osteopathic manipulative treatment; Systematic review
2.  A randomized, controlled trial of osteopathic manipulative treatment for acute low back pain in active duty military personnel 
Acute low back pain (ALBP) may limit mobility and impose functional limitations in active duty military personnel. Although some manual therapies have been reported effective for ALBP in military personnel, there have been no published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the military. Furthermore, current military ALBP guidelines do not specifically include OMT.
This RCT examined the efficacy of OMT in relieving ALBP and improving functioning in military personnel at Fort Lewis, Washington. Sixty-three male and female soldiers ages 18 to 35 were randomly assigned to a group receiving OMT plus usual care or a group receiving usual care only (UCO).
The primary outcome measures were pain on the quadruple visual analog scale, and functioning on the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. Outcomes were measured immediately preceding each of four treatment sessions and at four weeks post-trial. Intention to treat analysis found significantly greater post-trial improvement in ‘Pain Now’ for OMT compared to UCO (P = 0·026). Furthermore, the OMT group reported less ‘Pain Now’ and ‘Pain Typical’ at all visits (P = 0·025 and P = 0·020 respectively). Osteopathic manipulative treatment subjects also tended to achieve a clinically meaningful improvement from baseline on ‘Pain at Best’ sooner than the UCO subjects. With similar baseline expectations, OMT subjects reported significantly greater satisfaction with treatment and overall self-reported improvement (P<0·01).
This study supports the effectiveness of OMT in reducing ALBP pain in active duty military personnel.
PMCID: PMC3267441  PMID: 23372389
Low back pain; Manual medicine; Manipulation
3.  Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is a distinctive modality commonly used by osteopathic physicians to complement their conventional treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Previous reviews and meta-analyses of spinal manipulation for low back pain have not specifically addressed OMT and generally have focused on spinal manipulation as an alternative to conventional treatment. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of OMT as a complementary treatment for low back pain.
Computerized bibliographic searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, MANTIS, OSTMED, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were supplemented with additional database and manual searches of the literature.
Six trials, involving eight OMT vs control treatment comparisons, were included because they were randomized controlled trials of OMT that involved blinded assessment of low back pain in ambulatory settings. Data on trial methodology, OMT and control treatments, and low back pain outcomes were abstracted by two independent reviewers. Effect sizes were computed using Cohen's d statistic and meta-analysis results were weighted by the inverse variance of individual comparisons. In addition to the overall meta-analysis, stratified meta-analyses were performed according to control treatment, country where the trial was conducted, and duration of follow-up. Sensitivity analyses were performed for both the overall and stratified meta-analyses.
Overall, OMT significantly reduced low back pain (effect size, -0.30; 95% confidence interval, -0.47 – -0.13; P = .001). Stratified analyses demonstrated significant pain reductions in trials of OMT vs active treatment or placebo control and OMT vs no treatment control. There were significant pain reductions with OMT regardless of whether trials were performed in the United Kingdom or the United States. Significant pain reductions were also observed during short-, intermediate-, and long-term follow-up.
OMT significantly reduces low back pain. The level of pain reduction is greater than expected from placebo effects alone and persists for at least three months. Additional research is warranted to elucidate mechanistically how OMT exerts its effects, to determine if OMT benefits are long lasting, and to assess the cost-effectiveness of OMT as a complementary treatment for low back pain.
PMCID: PMC1208896  PMID: 16080794
4.  OSTEOPAThic Health outcomes In Chronic low back pain: The OSTEOPATHIC Trial 
Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and ultrasound physical therapy (UPT) are commonly used for chronic low back pain. Although there is evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis that OMT generally reduces low back pain, there are no large clinical trials that specifically assess OMT efficacy in chronic low back pain. Similarly, there is a lack of evidence involving UPT for chronic low back pain.
The OSTEOPAThic Health outcomes In Chronic low back pain (OSTEOPATHIC) Trial is a Phase III randomized controlled trial that seeks to study 488 subjects between August 2006 and June 2010. It uses a 2 × 2 factorial design to independently assess the efficacy of OMT and UPT for chronic low back pain. The primary outcome is a visual analogue scale score for pain. Secondary outcomes include back-specific functioning, generic health, work disability, and satisfaction with back care.
This randomized controlled trial will potentially be the largest involving OMT. It will provide long awaited data on the efficacy of OMT and UPT for chronic low back pain.
Trial registration
, NCT00315120
PMCID: PMC2386783  PMID: 18439282
5.  Impact of Osteopathic Treatment on Pain in Adult Patients with Cystic Fibrosis – A Pilot Randomized Controlled Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102465.
Pain is a common complication in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and is associated with shorter survival. We evaluated the impact of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on pain in adults with CF.
A pilot multicenter randomized controlled trial was conducted with three parallel arms: OMT (group A, 16 patients), sham OMT (sham treatment, group B, 8 patients) and no treatment (group C, 8 patients). Medical investigators and patients were double-blind to treatment for groups A and B, who received OMT or sham OMT monthly for 6 months. Pain was rated as a composite of its intensity and duration over the previous month. The evolution of chest/back pain after 6 months was compared between group A and groups B+C combined (control group). The evolution of cervical pain, headache and quality of life (QOL) were similarly evaluated.
There was no statistically significant difference between the treatment and control groups in the decrease of chest/back pain (difference = −2.20 IC95% [−4.81; 0.42], p = 0.098); also, group A did not differ from group B. However, chest/back pain decreased more in groups A (p = 0.002) and B (p = 0.006) than in group C. Cervical pain, headache and QOL scores did not differ between the treatment and control groups.
This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of evaluating the efficacy of OMT to treat the pain of patients with CF. The lack of difference between the group treated with OMT and the control group may be due to the small number of patients included in this trial, which also precludes any definitive conclusion about the greater decrease of pain in patients receiving OMT or sham OMT than in those with no intervention.
Trial Registration NCT01293019
PMCID: PMC4100932  PMID: 25029347
6.  Osteopathic research: elephants, enigmas, and evidence 
The growth and acceptance of osteopathic physicians as conventional medical practitioners in the United States has also raised questions about the distinctive aspects of osteopathic medicine. Although the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and a focus on primary care are most often cited as rationales for the uniqueness of osteopathic medicine, an osteopathic professional identity remains enigmatic.
The fledgling basic osteopathic research efforts of the early and mid-twentieth century have not been sustained and expanded over time. Thus, there is presently a scarcity of basic mechanistic and translational research that can be considered to be uniquely osteopathic. To be sure, there have been advances in osteopathic clinical trials, particularly those involving OMT for low back pain. Meta-analysis of these low back pain trials has provided evidence that: (1) OMT affords greater pain reduction than active or placebo control treatments; (2) the effects of OMT are comparable regardless of whether treatment is provided by fully-licensed osteopathic physicians in the United States or by osteopaths in the United Kingdom; and (3) the effects of OMT increase over time. However, much more clinical research remains to be done. The planning and implementation of a large longitudinal study of the natural history and epidemiology of somatic dysfunction, including an OMT component, represents a much-needed step forward. Osteopathic medicine's use of OMT and its focus on primary care are not mutually exclusive aspects of its uniqueness. The intersection of these fundamental aspects of osteopathic medicine suggests that the profession may successfully adopt a generic strategy of "focused differentiation" to attain a competitive advantage in the health care arena. While there are both requisite demands and risks for the osteopathic profession in adopting such a strategy, these are reasonable in relation to the potential rewards to be attained. To help promote an osteopathic identity, "omtology" and its derivative terms are recommended in referring to the study of OMT.
The osteopathic profession should adopt a coherent strategy for developing and promoting its identity. Failure to do so will likely ensure that osteopathic medicine remains "stuck in the middle."
PMCID: PMC1808471  PMID: 17371583
7.  Efficacy of osteopathic manipulation as an adjunctive treatment for hospitalized patients with pneumonia: a randomized controlled trial 
The Multicenter Osteopathic Pneumonia Study in the Elderly (MOPSE) is a registered, double-blinded, randomized, controlled trial designed to assess the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) as an adjunctive treatment in elderly patients with pneumonia.
406 subjects aged ≥ 50 years hospitalized with pneumonia at 7 community hospitals were randomized using concealed allocation to conventional care only (CCO), light-touch treatment (LT), or OMT groups. All subjects received conventional treatment for pneumonia. OMT and LT groups received group-specific protocols for 15 minutes, twice daily until discharge, cessation of antibiotics, respiratory failure, death, or withdrawal from the study. The primary outcomes were hospital length of stay (LOS), time to clinical stability, and a symptomatic and functional recovery score.
Intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis (n = 387) found no significant differences between groups. Per-protocol (PP) analysis (n = 318) found a significant difference between groups (P = 0.01) in LOS. Multiple comparisons indicated a reduction in median LOS (95% confidence interval) for the OMT group (3.5 [3.2-4.0] days) versus the CCO group (4.5 [3.9-4.9] days), but not versus the LT group (3.9 [3.5-4.8] days). Secondary outcomes of duration of intravenous antibiotics and treatment endpoint were also significantly different between groups (P = 0.05 and 0.006, respectively). Duration of intravenous antibiotics and death or respiratory failure were lower for the OMT group versus the CCO group, but not versus the LT group.
ITT analysis found no differences between groups. PP analysis found significant reductions in LOS, duration of intravenous antibiotics, and respiratory failure or death when OMT was compared to CCO. Given the prevalence of pneumonia, adjunctive OMT merits further study.
PMCID: PMC2848182  PMID: 20302619
8.  Muscle functional magnetic resonance imaging and acute low back pain: a pilot study to characterize lumbar muscle activity asymmetries and examine the effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment 
Muscle functional magnetic resonance imaging (mfMRI) measures transverse relaxation time (T2), and allows for determination of the spatial pattern of muscle activation. The purposes of this pilot study were to examine whether MRI-derived T2 or side-to-side differences in T2 (asymmetries) differ in low back muscles between subjects with acute low back pain (LBP) compared to asymptomatic controls, and to determine if a single osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) session alters these T2 properties immediately and 48-hours after treatment.
Subjects with non-specific acute LBP (mean score on 1-10 visual analog score = 3.02 ± 2.81) and asymptomatic controls (n = 9/group) underwent an MRI, and subsequently the LBP subjects received OMT and then underwent another MRI. The LBP subjects reported back for an additional MRI 48-hours following their initial visit. T2 and T2 asymmetry were calculated from regions of interest for the psoas, quadratus lumborum (QL), multifidus, and iliocostalis lumborum/longissimus thoracis (IL/LT) muscles.
No differences were observed between the groups when T2 was averaged for the left and right side muscles. However, the QL displayed a significantly greater T2 asymmetry in LBP subjects when compared to controls (29.1 ± 4.3 vs. 15.9 ± 4.1%; p = 0.05). The psoas muscle also displayed a relatively large, albeit non-significant, mean difference (22.7 ± 6.9 vs. 9.5 ± 2.8%; p = 0.11). In the subjects with LBP, psoas T2 asymmetry was significantly reduced immediately following OMT (25.3 ± 6.9 to 6.1 ± 1.8%, p = 0.05), and the change in LBP immediately following OMT was correlated with the change in psoas T2 asymmetry (r = 0.75, p = 0.02).
Collectively, this pilot work demonstrates the feasibility of mfMRI for quantification and localization of muscle abnormalities in patients with acute low back pain. Additionally, this pilot work provides insight into the mechanistic actions of OMT during acute LBP, as it suggests that it may attenuate muscle activity asymmetries of some of the intrinsic low back muscles.
PMCID: PMC2744922  PMID: 19712459
9.  A randomized control trial on the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment in reducing pain and improving the quality of life in elderly patients affected by osteoporosis 
In the elderly population, a decrease in bone mineral density (osteoporosis) is often associated with a decrease in quality of life and an increase in self reported body pain. This pain originates from the musculoskeletal system and can potentially affect different areas of the body.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on self reported pain and quality of life in an elderly population.
Randomized placebo controlled trial.
Patients were recruited from the Geriatric Department, Bassini Hospital (Milan, Italy). Patients were randomly assigned to either 6 sessions of OMT (n = 37 patients) or an equivalent number of sham manipulative treatment (SMT) (n = 35 patients). The main outcome variables were QOL measured by QUALEFFO -41 and overall bodily pain measured using a visual analog scale (VAS). Data were analyzed using a two factor ANOVA (treatment × time) for repeated measurements with an α level set at p ≤ 0.05.
Main result of this study was that OMT compared to SMT showed a significant decreased of disability. This effect was demonstrated by a significant interaction in the overall disability score (p =0.001) and the Mental wellbeing (p =0.058), Health perception (p =0.005) and Pain (p =0.003) QUALEFFO -41 subscales, while no significant difference (no interaction) for pain as measured by VAS and for the Daily activities, Walking, Household cleaning and Leisure time activities QUALEFFO -41 subscales (p > 0.05) was found. No adverse effects were recorded during the study.
This study demonstrated that, in a group of elderly subjects affected by osteoporosis OMT was able to increase self reported QOL while the effect on body pain perception is unclear. This overall improvement in QOL appears to be caused by an improvement in psychological factors (i.e Mental wellbeing and Health perception) rather than physical factors. In fact, all QUALEFFO -41 subscales related to physical function demonstrated no significant interaction. The effect of OMT on Pain perception is less clear. In fact, there was no effect on pain as assessed by VAS while a significant improvement was observed when the QUALEFFO -41 subscale was used. This could be due to the metric properties of the two pain measurement methods; an alternative explanation could be that VAS measures mainly pain quantity while QUA-LEFFO -41 subscales measures mainly pain quality. The lack of effect of OMT on physical function needs to be confirmed by more direct measurements of this variable.
PMCID: PMC3535995  PMID: 23289034
osteoporosis; osteopathic treatment; quality of life; pain
10.  Echinacea purpurea and osteopathic manipulative treatment in children with recurrent otitis media: a randomized controlled trial 
Recurrent otitis media is a common problem in young children. Echinacea and osteopathic manipulative treatment have been proposed as preventive measures, but have been inadequately studied. This study was designed to assess the efficacy of Echinacea purpurea and/or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for prevention of acute otitis media in otitis-prone children.
A randomized, placebo-controlled, two-by-two factorial trial with 6-month follow-up, conducted 1999 – 2002 in Tucson, Arizona. Patients were aged 12–60 months with recurrent otitis media, defined as three or more separate episodes of acute otitis media within six months, or at least four episodes in one year. Ninety children (44% white non-Hispanic, 39% Hispanic, 57% male) were enrolled, of which 84 had follow-up for at least 3 months. Children were randomly assigned to one of four protocol groups: double placebo, echinacea plus sham OMT, true OMT (including cranial manipulation) plus placebo echinacea, or true echinacea plus OMT. An alcohol extract of Echinacea purpurea roots and seeds (or placebo) was administered for 10 days at the first sign of each common cold. Five OMT visits (or sham treatments) were offered over 3 months.
No interaction was found between echinacea and OMT. Echinacea was associated with a borderline increased risk of having at least one episode of acute otitis media during 6-month follow-up compared to placebo (65% versus 41%; relative risk, 1.59, 95% CI 1.04, 2.42). OMT did not significantly affect risk compared to sham (44% versus 61%; relative risk, 0.72, 95% CI 0.48, 1.10).
In otitis-prone young children, treating colds with this form of echinacea does not decrease the risk of acute otitis media, and may in fact increase risk. A regimen of up to five osteopathic manipulative treatments does not significantly decrease the risk of acute otitis media.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT00010465
PMCID: PMC2573879  PMID: 18831749
11.  Osteopathic intervention in chronic non-specific low back pain: a systematic review 
Chronic Non Specific Low Back Pain (CNSLBP) is a common, complex and disabling condition that has been present for longer than three months and is not caused by a serious pathology. Osteopaths are health practitioners who commonly diagnose and treat CNSLBP patients using a complex set of interventions that includes manual therapy. The study aimed to complete a Systematic Review of clinical research into osteopathic intervention in CNSLBP using a rigorous assessment of study quality.
The literature was searched to August 2011 using the following databases: AMED, CINAHL Plus, Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials, MEDLINE Plus, EMBASE, MANTIS, OSTMED, PEDro, ScienceDirect. Multiple search terms were used in various combinations: osteopathy/osteopathic, osteopathic manipulative technique, OMT, Spinal Manipulative Therapy, SMT, clinical trial, back pain, chronic back pain. The inclusion criteria were papers that: reported clinical trials; had adult participants; tested the effectiveness and/or efficacy of osteopathic manual therapy intervention applied by osteopaths, and had a study condition of CNSLBP. The quality of the papers was assessed using the Cochrane Back Review Risk of Bias criteria. A meta-analysis would proceed if the studies had adequate clinical and methodological homogeneity.
Initial searches revealed 809 papers, 772 of which were excluded on the basis of abstract alone. The remaining 37 trial papers were subjected to a more detailed analysis of the full text, which resulted in 35 being excluded. The two remaining trials had a lack of methodological and clinical homogeneity, precluding a meta-analysis. The trials used different comparators with regards to the primary outcomes, the number of treatments, the duration of treatment and the duration of follow-up.
There are only two studies assessing the effect of the manual therapy intervention applied by osteopathic clinicians in adults with CNSLBP. One trial concluded that the osteopathic intervention was similar in effect to a sham intervention, and the other suggests similarity of effect between osteopathic intervention, exercise and physiotherapy. Further clinical trials into this subject are required that have consistent and rigorous methods. These trials need to include an appropriate control and utilise an intervention that reflects actual practice.
PMCID: PMC3623881  PMID: 23570655
Systematic review; Osteopathy; Osteopathic manipulative treatment; Low back pain; Chronic low back pain; Non-specific low back pain; Manual therapy; Clinical trial methodology
12.  Patient expectations for placebo treatments commonly used in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) clinical trials: a pilot study 
Placebo treatments should be believable to ensure expectation of benefit, yet not provide a true treatment effect. One obstacle to conducting clinical trials with osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is choosing an appropriate placebo. Various placebo treatments have been used in OMT clinical trials. The purpose of this study was to determine expectations of 3 treatments (HVLA, placebo light touch, placebo sub-therapeutic ultrasound) commonly used in OMT clinical research trials.
A randomized, cross-over design was utilized. Subjects were recruited from the Family Medicine Clinic, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. Participants watched a video with 2 minute demonstrations of a High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA), placebo light touch (LT), and placebo sub-therapeutic ultrasound (ULTRA) treatment for low back pain. The order of presentations was randomized to control for order effect bias. Subjects indicated the extent of their agreement (using a 4 point Likert scale) with 4 statements that were presented after each treatment was viewed: 1)I believe this treatment would allow me to get better quicker; 2)I believe this treatment would decrease my low back pain; 3)I believe this treatment would make me more able to do the things I want to do; 4)This seems like a logical way to treat low back pain. Repeated measures analysis of variance was performed, and a partial Eta squared was calculated for each statement. Effect sizes (Cohen's d) were calculated where appropriate.
Thirty of 40 eligible subjects participated. Twenty-two (73%) were female, 16 (53%) were Caucasian, and 11 (37%) had completed college. The mean age was 43 (SD = 15.). Repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant differences for statements 2 and 4. For both statements 1 (p = 0.025) and 3 (p = 0.039), post hoc analysis revealed a difference between HVLA and LT. The partial Eta squared (ηp2) was 0.105, 0.072, 0.107, and 0.024 for each statement, respectively.
There is a difference in treatment expectation between HVLA and LT for statements 1 and 3. Participants responded more positively after viewing the HVLA treatment than the LT treatment. This suggests that sub-therapeutic ultrasound is the better placebo because the expectations were similar to those for HVLA.
PMCID: PMC1805771  PMID: 17371579
13.  Educating osteopaths to be researchers – what role should research methods and statistics have in an undergraduate curriculum? 
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) involves using research data to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of clinical disorders. Somatic dysfunction and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) are two unique aspects of osteopathy that will benefit from a greater emphasis on scientific evidence. Most evidence in osteopathy is based on expert opinions, case reports, case series, and observational studies. Only one systematic review of randomized controlled trials, involving OMT for low back pain, has been published. Although this study demonstrates the efficacy of OMT for low back pain, other clinical trials are needed to expand the evidence base in osteopathy. Undergraduate osteopathy curricula should ensure that students acquire the tools necessary to become knowledgeable consumers of the research and statistics presented in biomedical journals. Such curricula need to be supplemented with graduate training programs and research funding mechanisms to ensure that young osteopathic researchers are able to produce the research needed to practice and advance evidence-based osteopathy in the future.
PMCID: PMC2574521  PMID: 19122835
osteopathy; osteopathic medicine; osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT); somatic dysfunction; low back pain; evidence-based medicine; evidence-based osteopathy; research methods; biostatistics
14.  Responding to the challenge of clinically relevant osteopathic research: efficacy and beyond 
The osteopathic profession has been challenged over the past decade to provide clinically relevant research. The conduct of evidence-based osteopathic research is imperative not only for scientific, economic, and professional reasons, but also to drive health care policy and clinical practice guidelines. This paper summarizes recent studies in response to the osteopathic research challenge, including clinical trials registered with and a systematic review and meta-analysis of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for low back pain. The concept of the OMT responder is introduced and supported with preliminary data. Within the context of a pain processing model, consideration is given to genomic (e.g., the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene) and psychological (e.g., depression and somatization) factors that are associated with pain sensitivity and pain progression, and to the role that such factors may play in screening for OMT responders. While substantial progress has been made in osteopathic research, much more needs to be done.
PMCID: PMC2084062  PMID: 18311324
osteopathy; osteopathic medicine; osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT); low back pain; genomics; catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT); pain processing
15.  Osteopathic manipulative treatment for pneumonia 
The pneumonias due to infection continue to be a meaningful threat to the health and viability of persons, particularly those in high risk groups: children, the aged and the debilitated. Noll and colleagues provide us with the results of a well-designed and well-executed multi-institutional controlled clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the treatment of pneumonia. The data obtained indicate that by intention-to-treat analysis, the addition of OMT to conventional care did not improve the designated outcomes when compared to conventional care only. A disappointing but important finding. However, by per-protocol analysis, the addition of OMT or of light touch decreased length of hospital stay, the duration of intravenous antibiotics and the incidence of respiratory failure and death relative to conventional care only. Further study is called for to explain these surprising results.
Meeting the need for randomized clinical trials of the role and efficacy of OMT is a responsibility of high priority for the osteopathic profession in this age of evidence-based medicine. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) needs to consider reinstating a dues-generated financial set-aside both to increase its support of osteopathic research and to initiate a program of physician-investigator career development awards to recruit and help establish osteopathic clinical investigators in a career in translational and clinical research.
PMCID: PMC2845139  PMID: 20302620
16.  Osteopathic manipulative treatment and its relationship to autonomic nervous system activity as demonstrated by heart rate variability: a repeated measures study 
The relationship between osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and the autonomic nervous system has long been acknowledged, but is poorly understood. In an effort to define this relationship, cervical myofascial release was used as the OMT technique with heart rate variability (HRV) as a surrogate for autonomic activity. This study quantifies that relationship and demonstrates a cause and effect.
Seventeen healthy subjects, nine males and eight females aged 19–50 years from the faculty, staff, and students at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, acted as their own controls and received interventions, administered in separate sessions at least 24 hours apart, of cervical myofascial OMT, touch-only sham OMT, and no-touch control while at a 50-degree head-up tilt. Each group was dichotomized into extremes of autonomic activity using a tilt table. Comparisons were made between measurements taken at tilt and those taken at pre- and post-intervention in the horizontal.
The variance of the spectral components of HRV, expressed as frequencies, measured the response to change in position of the subjects. Normalized low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF) values, including LF/HF ratio, were calculated and used to determine the effect of position change on HRV.
Predominantly parasympathetic responses were observed with subjects in the horizontal position, while a 50-degree tilt provided a significantly different measure of maximum sympathetic tone (p < 0.001). Heart rate changed in all subjects with change in position; respirations remained constant. When OMT was performed in a sympathetic environment (tilt), a vagal response was produced that was strong enough to overcome the sympathetic tone. There was no HRV difference between sham and control in either the horizontal or tilt positions.
The vagal response produced by the myofascial release procedure in the maximally stimulated sympathetic environment could only have come from the application of the OMT. This demonstrates the association between OMT and the autonomic nervous system. The lack of significance between control and sham in all positions indicates that HRV may be a useful method of developing sham controls in future studies of OMT.
Trial registration NCT00516984.
PMCID: PMC2442110  PMID: 18534024
The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, including increased blood volume and cardiac output, can affect hemodynamic control, most profoundly with positional changes that affect venous return to the heart. By using Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), a body-based modality theorized to affect somatic structures related to nervous and circulatory systems, we hypothesized that OMT acutely improves both autonomic and hemodynamic control during head-up tilt and heel raise in women at 30 weeks gestation.
One hundred subjects were recruited at 30 weeks gestation.
The obstetric clinics of UNTHealth in Fort Worth, Texas.
Subjects were randomized into one of three treatment groups: OMT, placebo ultrasound, or time control. Ninety subjects had complete data (N=25, 31 and 34 in each group respectively).
Main outcome measures
Blood pressure and heart rate were recorded during 5 min of head-up tilt followed by 4 min of intermittent heel raising.
No significant differences in blood pressure, heart rate or heart rate variability were observed between groups with tilt before or after treatment (p>0.36), and heart rate variability was not different between treatment groups (p>0.55). However, blood pressure increased significantly (p=0.02) and heart rate decreased (p<0.01) during heel raise after OMT compared to placebo or time control.
These data suggest that OMT can acutely improve hemodynamic control during engagement of the skeletal muscle pump and this was most likely due to improvement of structural restrictions to venous return.
PMCID: PMC3893141  PMID: 24280470
Blood pressure; hypotension; tilt; muscle pump; osteopathic manipulation
18.  Effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment on length of stay in a population of preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:65.
The use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in preterm infants has been documented and results from previous studies suggest the association between OMT and length of stay (LOS) reduction, as well as significant improvements in several clinical outcomes. The aim of the present study is to investigate the effect of OMT on LOS in premature infants.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted on preterm newborns admitted to a single NICU between 2008-2009. N=110 subjects free of medical complications and with gestational age >28 and < 38 weeks were enrolled and randomized in two groups: study group (N=55) and control group (N=55). All subjects received routine pediatric care and OMT was performed to the study group for the entire period of hospitalization. Endpoints of the study included differences in LOS and daily weight gain.
Results showed a significant association between OMT and LOS reduction (mean difference between treated and control group: -5.906; 95% C.I. -7.944, -3.869; p<0.001). OMT was not associated to any change in daily weight gain.
The present study suggests that OMT may have an important role in the management of preterm infants hospitalization.
Trial registration, NCT01544257.
PMCID: PMC3648440  PMID: 23622070
Osteopathic manipulative treatment; Newborns; Preterm infants; Length of stay; Costs; Weight gain
19.  Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy Induces Early Plasma Cytokine Release and Mobilization of a Population of Blood Dendritic Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90132.
It has been claimed that osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is able to enhance the immune response of individuals. In particular, it has been reported that OMT has the capability to increase antibody titers, enhance the efficacy of vaccination, and upregulate the numbers of circulating leukocytes. Recently, it has been shown in human patients suffering chronic low back pain, that OMT is able to modify the levels of cytokines such as IL-6 and TNF-α in blood upon repeated treatment. Further, experimental animal models show that lymphatic pump techniques can induce a transient increase of cytokines in the lymphatic circulation. Taking into account all these data, we decided to investigate in healthy individuals the capacity of OMT to induce a rapid modification of the levels of cytokines and leukocytes in circulation. Human volunteers were subjected to a mixture of lymphatic and thoracic OMT, and shortly after the levels of several cytokines were evaluated by protein array technology and ELISA multiplex analysis, while the profile and activation status of circulating leukocytes was extensively evaluated by multicolor flow cytometry. In addition, the levels of nitric oxide and C-reactive protein (CRP) in plasma were determined. In this study, our results show that OMT was not able to induce a rapid modification in the levels of plasma nitrites or CRP or in the proportion or activation status of central memory, effector memory or naïve CD4 and CD8 T cells. A significant decrease in the proportion of a subpopulation of blood dendritic cells was detected in OMT patients. Significant differences were also detected in the levels of immune molecules such as IL-8, MCP-1, MIP-1α and most notably, G-CSF. Thus, OMT is able to induce a rapid change in the immunological profile of particular circulating cytokines and leukocytes.
PMCID: PMC3948629  PMID: 24614605
20.  The Effect of Optimally Timed Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Length of Hospital Stay in Moderate and Late Preterm Infants: Results from a RCT 
Introduction. Little research has been conducted looking at the effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on preterm infants. Aim of the Study. This study hypothesized that osteopathic care is effective in reducing length of hospital stay and that early OMT produces the most pronounced benefit, compared to moderately early and late OMT. A secondary outcome was to estimate hospital cost savings by the use of OMT. Methods. 110 newborns ranging from 32- to 37-week gestation were randomized to receive either OMT or usual pediatric care. Early, moderately early, and late OMT were defined as <4, <9, and <14 days from birth, respectively. Result. Hospital stay was shorter in infants receiving late OMT (−2.03; 95% CI −3.15, −0.91; P < 0.01) than controls. Subgroup analysis of infants receiving early and moderately early OMT resulted in shorter LOS (early OMT: −4.16; −6.05, −2.27; P < 0.001; moderately early OMT: −3.12; −4.36, −1.89; P < 0.001). Costs analysis showed that OMT significantly produced a net saving of €740 (−1309.54, −170.33; P = 0.01) per newborn per LOS. Conclusions. This study shows evidence that the sooner OMT is provided, the shorter their hospital stay is. There is also a positive association of OMT with overall reduction in cost of care.
PMCID: PMC4260368  PMID: 25506381
21.  Avian influenza: an osteopathic component to treatment 
Avian influenza is an infection caused by the H5N1 virus. The infection is highly contagious among birds, and only a few known cases of human avian influenza have been documented. However, healthcare experts around the world are concerned that mutation or genetic exchange with more commonly transmitted human influenza viruses could result in a pandemic of avian influenza. Their concern remains in spite of the fact that the first United States vaccine against the H5N1 virus was recently approved. Under these circumstances the fear is that a pandemic of avian influenza could result in the kind of mortality that was seen with the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918–1919, where the number of deaths was estimated to be as high as 40 million people.
Retrospective data gathered by the American Osteopathic Association shortly after the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic have suggested that osteopathic physicians (DOs), using their distinctive osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) methods, observed significantly lower morbidity and mortality among their patients as compared to those treated by allopathic physicians (MDs) with standard medical care available at the time. In light of the limited prevention and treatment options available, it seems logical that a preparedness plan for the treatment of avian influenza should include these OMT procedures, provided by DOs and other healthcare workers capable of being trained to perform these therapeutic interventions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the characteristics of avian influenza, describe the success of DOs during the 1918–1919 Spanish influenza pandemic, describe the evidence base for the inclusion of OMT as part of the preparedness plan for the treatment of avian influenza, and describe some of the specific OMT procedures that could be utilized as part of the treatment protocol for avian influenza patients.
PMCID: PMC1939852  PMID: 17620133
22.  Effectiveness evaluation of an integrated automatic termomechanic massage system (SMATH® system) in non-specific sub-acute and chronic low back pain - a randomized double-blinded controlled trial, comparing SMATH therapy versus sham therapy: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2011;12:216.
Low back pain (LBP) is a major health problem in modern society, with 70-85% of the population experiencing LBP at some time in their lives. Each year, 5-10% of the workforce misses work due to LBP, most for less than 7 days. Almost 10% of all patients are at risk of developing chronic pain and disability. Little clinical evidence is available for the majority of treatments used in LBP therapy. However, moderate evidence exists for interdisciplinary rehabilitation, exercise, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, and cognitive behavioral therapy for subacute and chronic LBP. The SMATH® system (system for automatic thermomechanic massage in health) is a new medical device (MD) that combines basic principles of mechanical massage, thermotherapy, acupressure, infrared therapy, and moxibustion. SMATH® is suitable for automatic multidisciplinary treatment on patients with non-specific sub-acute and chronic LBP.
This paper describes the protocol for a double-blinded, sham-controlled, randomized, single-center short term clinical trial in patients with non-specific sub-acute and chronic LBP aged 18 to 70 years. The primary outcome will be the effectiveness of SMATH® versus sham therapy (medical device without active principles) determined by evaluating self perceived physical function with Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) scores after 4 weeks of treatment (end of treatment). Major secondary outcome will be effectiveness of SMATH® determined by evaluating self perceived physical function comparing RMDQ scores between end of treatment and baseline. The trial part of the study will take 7 months while observational follow-up will take 11 months. The sample size will be 72 participants (36 for each arm). The project has been approved by the Ethical Committee of Cremona Hospital, Italy on 29 November 2010.
Compared to other medical specialties, physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM) has not yet received the deserved recognition from clinicians and researchers in the scientific community, especially for medical devices. The best way to change this disadvantage is through well-conducted clinical research in sham-controlled randomized trials. Sham treatment groups are essential for improving the level of evidence-based practice in PRM. The present trial will counter the general lack of evidence concerning medical devices used in LBP therapy.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3214170  PMID: 21967800
23.  Outcome measures in chronic low back pain 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(9):1484-1494.
The purpose of this prospective, single site cohort quasi-experimental study was to determine the responsiveness of the numerical rating scale (NRS), Roland–Morris disability questionnaire (RMDQ), Oswestry disability index (ODI), pain self-efficacy questionnaire (PSEQ) and the patient-specific functional scale (PSFS) in order to determine which would best measure clinically meaningful change in a chronic low back pain (LBP) population. Several patient-based outcome instruments are currently used to measure treatment effect in the chronic LBP population. However, there is a lack of consensus on what constitutes a “successful” outcome, how an important improvement/deterioration has been defined and which outcome measure(s) best captures the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions for the chronic LBP population. Sixty-three consecutive patients with chronic LBP referred to a back exercise and education class participated in this study; 48 of the 63 patients had complete data. Five questionnaires were administered initially and after the 5-week back class intervention. Also at 5 weeks, patients completed a global impression of change as a reflection of meaningful change in patient status. Score changes in the five different questionnaires were subjected to both distribution- and anchor-based methods: standard error of measurement (SEM) and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves to define clinical improvement. From these methods, the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) defined as the smallest difference that patients and clinicians perceive to be worthwhile is presented for each instrument. Based on the SEM, a point score change of 2.4 in the NRS, 5 in the RMDQ, 17 in the ODI, 11 on the PSEQ, and 1.4 on the PSFS corresponded to the MCID. Based on ROC curve analysis, a point score change of 4 points for both the NRS and RMDQ, 8 points for the ODI, 9 points for the PSEQ and 2 points for the PSFS corresponded to the MCID. The ROC analysis demonstrated that both the PSEQ and PSFS are responsive to clinically important change over time. The NRS was found to be least responsive. The exact value of the MCID is not a fixed value and is dependent on the assessment method used to calculate the score change. Based on ROC curve analysis the PSFS and PSEQ were more responsive than the other scales in measuring change in patients with chronic LBP following participation in a back class programme. However, due to the small sample size, the lack of observed worsening of symptoms over time, the single centre and intervention studied these results which need to be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC2989277  PMID: 20397032
Low back pain; Outcome measures; Minimally clinically important change; Responsiveness; Functional assessment; Clinical significance; Patient-reported outcomes
24.  Participant Characteristics Associated with Symptomatic Improvement from Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain 
Studies suggest that yoga is effective for moderate to severe chronic low back pain (cLBP) in diverse predominantly lower socioeconomic status populations. However, little is known about factors associated with benefit from the yoga intervention.
Identify factors at baseline independently associated with greater efficacy among participants in a study of yoga for cLBP.
From September–December 2011, a 12-week randomized dosing trial was conducted comparing weekly vs. twice-weekly 75-minute hatha yoga classes for 95 predominantly low-income minority adults with nonspecific cLBP. Participant characteristics collected at baseline were used to determine factors beyond treatment assignment (reported in the initial study) that predicted outcome. We used bivariate testing to identify baseline characteristics associated with improvement in function and pain, and included select factors in a multivariate linear regression.
Recruitment and classes occurred in an academic safety-net hospital and five affiliated community health centers in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ninety-five adults with nonspecific cLBP, ages ranging from 20–64 (mean 48) years; 72 women and 23 men.
Outcome measures
Primary outcomes were changes in back-related function (modified Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, RMDQ; 0–23) and mean low back pain intensity (0–10) in the previous week, from baseline to week 12.
Adjusting for group assignment, baseline RMDQ, age, and gender, foreign nationality and lower baseline SF36 physical component score (PCS) were independently associated with improvement in RMDQ. Greater than high school education level, cLBP less than 1 year, and lower baseline SF36 PCS were independently associated with improvement in pain intensity. Other demographics including race, income, gender, BMI, and use of pain medications were not associated with either outcome.
Poor physical health at baseline is associated with greater improvement from yoga in back-related function and pain. Race, income, and body mass index do not affect the potential for a person with low back pain to experience benefit from yoga.
PMCID: PMC4228962  PMID: 25401042
Back pain; Low back pain; Chronic pain; Yoga; Hatha yoga; Socioeconomic status; Alternative medicine; Complementary medicine; Integrative medicine
25.  Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment as a Useful Adjunctive Tool for Pneumonia 
Pneumonia, the inflammatory state of lung tissue primarily due to microbial infection, claimed 52,306 lives in the United States in 20071 and resulted in the hospitalization of 1.1 million patients2. With an average length of in-patient hospital stay of five days2, pneumonia and influenza comprise significant financial burden costing the United States $40.2 billion in 20053. Under the current Infectious Disease Society of America/American Thoracic Society guidelines, standard-of-care recommendations include the rapid administration of an appropriate antibiotic regiment, fluid replacement, and ventilation (if necessary). Non-standard therapies include the use of corticosteroids and statins; however, these therapies lack conclusive supporting evidence4. (Figure 1)
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is a cost-effective adjunctive treatment of pneumonia that has been shown to reduce patients’ length of hospital stay, duration of intravenous antibiotics, and incidence of respiratory failure or death when compared to subjects who received conventional care alone5. The use of manual manipulation techniques for pneumonia was first recorded as early as the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918, when patients treated with standard medical care had an estimated mortality rate of 33%, compared to a 10% mortality rate in patients treated by osteopathic physicians6. When applied to the management of pneumonia, manual manipulation techniques bolster lymphatic flow, respiratory function, and immunological defense by targeting anatomical structures involved in the these systems7,8, 9, 10.
The objective of this review video-article is three-fold: a) summarize the findings of randomized controlled studies on the efficacy of OMT in adult patients with diagnosed pneumonia, b) demonstrate established protocols utilized by osteopathic physicians treating pneumonia, c) elucidate the physiological mechanisms behind manual manipulation of the respiratory and lymphatic systems. Specifically, we will discuss and demonstrate four routine techniques that address autonomics, lymph drainage, and rib cage mobility: 1) Rib Raising, 2) Thoracic Pump, 3) Doming of the Thoracic Diaphragm, and 4) Muscle Energy for Rib 1.5,11
PMCID: PMC4173698  PMID: 24836893
Medicine; Issue 87; Pneumonia; osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and techniques (OMT); lymphatic; rib raising; thoracic pump; muscle energy; doming diaphragm; alternative treatment

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