Harvard Women's Health Watch

Research We're Watching: Hands-on treatment helps low back pain

Research We're Watching

Hands-on treatment helps low back pain

Osteopathic manual treatment (OMT) is a safe, effective way to relieve low back pain, according to a study published in the March/April Annals of Family Medicine. In this study, researchers randomly assigned 455 people (ages 21 to 69) to receive various combinations of OMT, ultrasound therapy, or sham (fake) versions of these treatments. At the end of six treatment sessions, participants who received OMT reported less low back pain than those who received sham treatments. OMT-treated participants were also more likely to be very satisfied with their back care, and they needed fewer prescription medicines to relieve their pain. Side effects from OMT were minimal. Ultrasound treatment was not effective, the study found. Researchers did not evaluate the cost-effectiveness of OMT treatments, which can run $100 or more per session. More research is needed to confirm the long-term effectiveness, and cost, of OMT for low back pain.

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