A 2020 study reviewed the evidence of osteopathic techniques for chronic low back pain. In medical language, ‘chronic’ means ‘long term’, so the study was looking into whether osteopathic techniques work in treating long term back pain. As you might have seen from my blog ‘Cranial Osteopathy and Animals’, I have a particular interest in osteopathic techniques as well as physiotherapy techniques, and I incorporate them into my work with horses on a daily basis.
This 2020 study found medium-strength evidence (which at this level of review means pretty good evidence) that myofascial release in particular was helpful in reducing pain. This was shown both straight after treatment, and twelve weeks after treatment. The conclusion states that “Results strengthen evidence that osteopathy is effective in pain levels and functional status improvements in NS-CLBP patients.” As always, more evidence is needed!
Background: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a frequent cause of disability and it represents a medical, social and economic burden globally. Therefore, we assessed effectiveness of osteopathic interventions in the management of NS-CLBP for pain and functional status.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted. Findings were reported following the PRISMA statement. Six databases were searched for RCTs. Studies were independently assessed using a standardized form. Each article was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias (RoB) tool. Effect size (ES) were calculated at post-treatment and at 12 weeks' follow up. We used GRADE to assess quality of evidence.
Results: 10 articles were included. Studies investigated osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT, n = 6), myofascial release (MFR, n = 2), craniosacral treatment (CST, n = 1) and osteopathic visceral manipulation (OVM, n = 1). None of the study was completely judged at low RoB. Osteopathy revealed to be more effective than control interventions in pain reduction (ES: -0.59; 95% CI: -0.81, -0.36; P < 0.00,001) and in improving functional status (ES: -0.42; 95% 95% CI: -0.68, -0.15; P = 0.002). Moderate-quality evidence suggested that MFR is more effective than control treatments in pain reduction (ES: -0.69; 95% CI: -1.05, -0.33; P = 0.0002), even at follow-up (ES: -0.73; 95% CI: -1.09, -0.37; P < 0.0001). Low-quality evidence suggested superiority of OMT in pain reduction (ES: -0.57; 95% CI: -0.90, -0.25; P = 0.001) and in changing functional status (ES: -0.34; 95% CI: -0.65, -0.03; P = 0.001). Very low-quality evidence suggested that MFR is more effective than control interventions in functional improvements (ES: -0.73; 95% CI: -1.25, -0.21; P = 0.006).
Conclusion: Results strengthen evidence that osteopathy is effective in pain levels and functional status improvements in NS-CLBP patients. MFR reported better level of evidence for pain reduction if compared to other interventions. Further high-quality RCTs, comparing different osteopathic modalities, are recommended to produce better-quality evidence.
Dal Farra F, Risio RG, Vismara L, Bergna A. Effectiveness of osteopathic interventions in chronic non-specific low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complement Ther Med. 2021 Jan;56:102616. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102616. Epub 2020 Nov 13. PMID: 33197571.
You can find this review online here.
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion