Treatment Results

Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Osteopathic treatment for both acute and chronic pain, “acute” here meaning of less than 30 days, “chronic” meaning pain of 1-12 months duration, and “very chronic” of more than 1 year’s duration.

The results of Osteopathic treatment are broadly classified into 4 categories, based on the patient’s subjective reporting of their pain levels using a 0-10 scale, where 0=no pain and 10=the level they had when they first came for treatment.

Symptom freeNo pain whatsoever.
Much improved60% - 90% improvement.
Some improvement20 % - 50% improvement.
No Change0 – 10% improvement.

ACUTE PAIN

Active LifeA 1987 study (1) involving 138 Osteopathic patients with acute pain reported that 83% of these people were discharged after Osteopathic treatment either symptom-free or much improved following an average of 5.5 treatments. When the study broke down the percentages into “symptom-free” and “much improved” separately, it found that around 80% were discharged symptom-free. A further aspect of this study looked at patients who had previously received physiotherapy for their injury and reported 78% being discharged symptom-free or much improved following Osteopathic treatment.

A later study (2) of 138 ACC patients treated with Osteopathy for acute pain in 1991 reported that 93% were discharged symptom-free or much improved after an average of 5.5 treatments, and that 100% of those who had previously received physiotherapy for their injury were discharged symptom-free or much improved.

A further study (3) in 1991, involving a telephone follow up of 37 patients who had attended for a single visit and not returned for follow up, found that 70% of these “one-off” patients did not return because they had found the treatment “very effective” and had not returned because they “hadn’t needed to”.

CHRONIC PAIN

A 1987 study (1) involving the osteopathic treatment of 149 people with chronic pain (1-12 months duration) or very chronic pain (over 1 year’s duration) found that 78% of the chronic cases and 67% of the very chronic cases were able be discharged symptom-free or much improved after an average of 7.5 and 10.5 treatments respectively. Of these, approximately 50% were symptom-free.

Two follow up studies of this group of patients were conducted 2 years and 5 years later to determine whether these results were short-lived or long lasting for these chronic and very chronic cases. In the first study (after 2 years)(4), 59% of the chronic and 65% of the very chronic patients who had previously been discharged symptom-free or much improved following osteopathic treatment, had maintained that improvement over the following 2 years, and a further 20% had maintained their state of improvement for a good while or to a certain extent.

In the second follow up study (after 5 years)(5), 68% of the chronic and 67% of the very chronic patients had maintained that state of improvement for 5 years after being discharged symptom-free or much improved following Osteopathic treatment, and a further 15% were still much improved for some time but with recurrent episodes of pain from time to time.

References:

1. Osteopathic treatment results for acute and chronic injuries, by C. Rowse and R.Carruthers, J.N.Z.R.O. 1987, 1:7-9.

2. Osteopathic Treatment Results for ACC Patients, by R.Carruthers, and Avril Gaastra, J.N.Z.R.O. 1991, 5:16-20.

3. Why Patients Attend For One-Off Visits, by R. Carruthers and Avril Gaastra, J.N.Z.R.O. 1991, 5:9-12.

4. A follow-up study of chronic ACC patients, by R.Carruthers, J.N.Z.R.O. 1988, 2:23-24.

5. 5 Year Follow-Up of Chronic ACC Patients, by R.Carruthers and Sue Ziolo, J.N.Z.R.O. 1991, 5:12-15.