More than 632 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain, and it is a leading cause of disability, according to a report by ScienceDaily.com. A new study, conducted at The Osteopathic Research Center at the UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth, Texas used osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) and ultrasound therapy to treat chronic low back pain in 455 adults.
Patients in the study who received ultrasound therapy did not see any improvement, but the patients who received OMT saw significant improvement in pain, used less prescription medication and were more satisfied with their care over the 12 weeks of the study compared to those who did not receive OMT, according to the ScienceDaily report.
In the study, nearly two thirds of the patients who received OMT – six treatments overall – had a 30 percent reduction in their pain level, and half had a 50 percent reduction in their pain level. Patients received six treatments during the course of the study.
“One of the great benefits of OMT is that it has few side effects compared with other common treatments for low back pain that often involve serious side effects,” said John Licciardone, D.O., executive director of UNTHSC and author of a study published in recently in the Annals of Family Medicine. “In our study, patients who had higher levels of pain saw even greater reductions in pain.”
This means not only does OMT work to reduce pain, it seems to work even better in people who experience higher pain levels, he said in the report. “These are the very people who are often treated with potentially addictive drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin, epidural steroid injections or surgery. If we can reduce the use of these drugs and invasive procedures by helping people to feel better with a hands-on treatment that has few side effects, that is a plus for our patients, and it makes a significant contribution to the management of chronic pain,” said Licciardone.
He concluded there is now evidence of “moderate to substantial pain relief and a reduction in the use of prescription medications over 12 weeks.” The next step is to look at a longer follow-up period to see if the results can be maintained or improved upon.