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Osteopathic Medicine in Four Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Diseases: An Observational Trial with Follow-Up


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Complement Med Res. 2022;29(1):53-66.


Gabriele Rotter, Sylvia Binting, Tatjana Tissen-Diabaté, Miriam Ortiz, Benno Brinkhaus


Background and aim: Patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain diseases (CMPDs) often use osteopathic medicine (OM), although the changes in patients with pain diseases are still insufficiently investigated. This study aimed to observe changes along and after OM in addition to routine care on pain, functioning, and quality of life in patients with four CMPDs.

Methods: In this observational trial with follow-up, patients suffering from chronic neck pain (CNP, n = 10), chronic low back pain (CLBP, n = 10), chronic shoulder pain (CSP, n = 10), or chronic knee pain (CKP, n = 10) received up to six OM sessions in addition to routine care.

Results: A total of 40 patients (73% female, mean age 47.7 ± 8.3 years, mean pain intensity 59.4 ± 12.5 mm, measured by a visual analog scale [VAS] 0-100 mm) were included. After 26 weeks, there was an improvement in the VAS pain score in the whole population (mean difference to baseline -33.1 mm [95% CI -40.5 to -25.7]), as well in the patients with the four diseases: CNP (-33.7 mm [-54.7 to -12.6]), CLBP (-28.2 mm [-47.9 to -8.4]), CSP (-32.4 [-46.8 to -18.0]), and CKP (-38.1 mm [-49.1 to -27.0]). Regarding disease-specific outcomes, we found improvements in CNP, as measured by the neck disability index (scale 0-50; mean difference -3.6 [-9.0 to 1.9]), CLBP, as measured by the low back pain rating scale (scale 0-60; -3.4 [-12.5 to 5.7]), CSP, as measured by the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand score (scale 0-100; -13.4 [-23.1 to -3.7]), and CKP, as measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (scale 0-96; -13.0 [-23.5 to -2.5]). These improvements persisted through week 52. No adverse events were observed.

Conclusion: The study observed beneficial changes along and after the OM treatment in addition to routine care in patients with four different CMPDs. High-quality, multicenter randomized controlled trials are strongly needed to compare the effectiveness of OM and standard care interventions in treating CMPDs in the future. We have provided sufficient data for sample size calculations for these trials.

Publication Date: 

2022 Jan



Rotter, G., Binting, S., Tissen-diabaté, T., Ortiz, M., Brinkhaus, B. (2022) 'Osteopathic Medicine in Four Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Diseases: An Observational Trial with Follow-Up ', Complement Med Res. 2022;29(1):53-66.

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