Osteopathy.. Is there any evidence that it works?

11 April 2013

  • Osteopathy.. Is there any evidence that it works?
  • By Philip Godfrey, Osteopath. Chase Lodge Hospital, London NW7 2ED
  • "Does it really work or is it all in the mind?"
  • "I'm not convinced osteopathy does anything but after I had your treatment the pain seemed to go away on its own"!!      
  • "Surely its not as effective as taking pills?"               
I have always believed 100% that osteopathy actually works and is not a placebo treatment.Virtually every day of my career I have listened to people questioning the efficacy of osteopathic treatment. Sometimes the questions are valid, sometimes amusing and sometimes just plain rude! The infuriating thing has traditionally been that the truth is there has been a lack of research into how effective osteopathy actually is. For far too long the osteopaths argument has relied upon the fact there there is no research to suggest that osteopathy doesn't work!! Finally my profession twigged a few years ago that in order to be taken seriously we needed to provide hard evidence that is more than anecdotal. The national council for osteopathic research (NCOR) was set up and we now have a plethora of studies, data and articles that show beyond doubt that the treatment we can provide is safe and effective and in many cases more safe and more effective than mainstream treatments such as medication, injections and ultrasound etc. 
One recent study at the University of North Texas' Health Science Centre assessed 455 adult patients who attended the centre for back pain care. Some of the patients were given hands-on osteopathic therapy (OMT), involving six sessions over the course of 12 weeks, while others received ultrasound therapy. The researchers found that patients who received ultrasound therapy typically experienced little - if any - improvement in their chronic low back pain.In contrast, osteopathic care was associated with significant improvements in pain, as well as a reduced reliance on prescription painkillers.According to Arthritis Research UK's evidence-based report on the effectiveness of complementary therapies published earlier this year, they presented evidence that osteopathy worked in relieving back pain. The NHS in the UK now publish information about osteopathy on their websites and there they state clearly that there is good scientific evidence that osteopathy works well for treating a number of conditions.
It is a wonderful relief to finally be able to silence the doubters with good quality scientific research and results. Of course good patient care and a quick resolution to any structural ailment such as back pain often comes from a multidisciplinary approach. Working in Chase Lodge Hospital we pride ourselves on working in this way and can help patients recover fully from their problem quickly.

Tags: Osteopathy evidence, Chase lodge hospital, effective treatment for back pain

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