Low back pain, one of the major causes of disability, is estimated to affect more than 632 million people around the world and the costs incurred through medical care and lost productivity are enormous. Offering hope to the millions of chronic low back pain sufferers are the findings of a study by the Osteopathic Research Center at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth (UNTHSC). According to the research team, osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) can help alleviate moderately to substantially the level of pain and reduce the intake of prescription medication.
The UNTHSC study, the results of which were published in the Annals of Family Medicine, included 455 adults suffering from chronic low back pain. The researchers used OMT and ultrasound therapy in six treatment sessions over the course of 12 weeks. The patients in the ultrasound therapy group did not experience improvement in their condition. However, those who received the hands-on treatment reported a significant reduction in pain levels, lower use of prescription drugs and greater satisfaction with the care provided during the study. Almost two-thirds of the OMT group experienced a 30% reduction in pain and half had their pain level brought down by 50%.
John Licciardone, DO, one of the authors of the study, noted that patients with higher levels of pain experienced even greater reductions. This indicates that OMT is not only an effective pain relief option but it produces even better results for people in greater pain. Hands-on treatment has the added bonus of producing few side effects and necessitating less prescription medication, Licciardone added.