Montrose S, Vogel M, Barber KR. Use of osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain patients with and without pain medication history. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2021;121(1):63–69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/jom-2019-0193.
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Low back pain is one of the most frequent diagnoses in primary care, and prescription pain medication is commonly used for management. Osteopathic physicians may use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) as an additional tool to help alleviate pain.
To determine if nonpharmacological options can improve back pain with the use of OMT.
Two groups were studied: patients receiving OMT but not using prescribed pain medications (OMT-only group) and patients who received prescribed pain medication and began receiving OMT after three months of pharmacologic therapy (OMT + medication group). All patients were enrolled in the study for one year. The amount of time between treatments was determined by the physician performing the OMT and the patient’s pain improvement. The Keele STarT survey and Oswestry Disability Index tool were used at each appointment to assess the patient’s functionality and pain.
Thirty-six patients enrolled in the study: 26 in the OMT-only group and 10 in the OMT + medication group. Each group reported improvement in low back pain (LBP) according to both scales used. The OMT-only group reported improvement according to the Keele STarT survey (30% relative decrease in the mean score) and the Oswestry Disability Index tool (18% relative decrease in disability index), while patients in the OMT + medication group also reported improvement according to the Keele STarT survey (29.5% relative decrease in the mean score) and the Oswestry Disability Index tool (18% relative decrease in disability index). A decrease in Cyclobenzaprine usage was also observed in the OMT + medication group.
Both groups showed significant decreases in overall pain, and this similar effect in each group may indicate a lack of need for medications when OMT is used. Additional research on efficacy of OMT in this patient population is needed with larger, multicenter, randomized trials.
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