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Chronic Pain

Hands-On Approach to Chronic Pain Treatment

Greater than 632 million individuals suffer from some degree of lower back pain around the world. This is a staggering number which makes back pain one of the major causes of chronic disability worldwide. Approximately 33 percent of American citizens suffer from some form of chronic pain. This percentage surpasses the total number affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes put together.

In the U.S. alone, about 100 million adults suffer from some form of chronic pain. Every year, costs to the American economy total in excess of $550 billion for associated medical care as well as lost work productivity. Chronic lower back pain is considered to be a major contributor to these overall costs.

Researchers Find Hope for Chronic Pain Patients

The lead author of an American research study, published in a March 2013 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, indicates that their research provides hope for chronic pain interventions. Their study showed that a "hands-on" approach gives moderate to significant improvement in levels of pain while also decreasing a patient's reliance on prescription drugs.

Utilizing manual osteopathic methods and ultrasonic therapy, 455 adult participants were treated for their chronic low back pain. The study lasted for 12 weeks and treatments were administered every two weeks. Those patients who were given ultrasound therapy did not experience any noticeable improvement in their pain. However, participants who had osteopathy treatments saw considerable improvements in their levels of pain. The latter also had less need for prescription pain medications and were more satisfied with the overall care they received over the 12 week period of the clinical trial as compared to the group who did not receive manual osteopathy treatments.

Study Finds Osteopathy Provide real Relief for Chronic Pain

Study data showed that close to one-third of osteopathy patients realized a 30 percent decrease in their levels of pain while half of subjects experienced a 50 percent reduction.

Unlike other common forms of treatment for lower back pain, one of the greatest benefits of manual osteopathic manipulations is that there are very few side effects involved.

The lead author of this study explained that individuals who initially experienced the highest degrees of pain actually saw the greatest pain reduction during the trial period. This type of chronic pain sufferer is typically treated with potentially addictive drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as corticosteroidal epidural injections and/or surgical procedures.

Reducing the need for potent drug use and invasive surgical procedures, with the use of a hands-on approach to treatment with very few side effects, this will be a major contribution to chronic pain management. This particular clinical trial's comprehensive approach to treatment utilized a combination of various osteopathic techniques that focused on the lower back as well as other adjacent parts of the body. These treatment strategies gave more relief from chronic pain than those reported by previous research studies on pain.


Osteopathy has been used for more than 100 years. Doctors of osteopathy concentrate on the relationship between the human body's function and structure. There is now scientific evidence proving that these methods have moderate to substantial benefits in the treatment of chronic lower back pain as well as decreased usage of pain medications. There is a need to consider additional research in order to study longer follow-up treatment periods in order to determine if the results of this study can be maintained and/or improved upon.


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