Research within the osteopathic profession has taken place over a number of years; capacity in terms of research-active osteopaths is steadily growing.

Research relevant to osteopathic treatment of musculoskeletal pain comes from a number of manual therapy professions.1

A profile of osteopathic practice in Australia 2010-2011: a cross sectional survey.

Burke SR, Myers R, Zhang AL.

Published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders

In this study, Australian osteopaths mainly see patients with acute or sub-acute musculoskeletal problems which are predominantly spinal conditions. A significant proportion of these patients have one or more co-existing condition, largely of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, along with mental health disorders. The majority of patients have a significant improvement within few treatments, with infrequent and minor adverse events reported. These findings should be tested through multi-centred pragmatic trials of osteopathic practice.

Effectiveness of manual therapies: the UK evidence report

Gert Bronfort, Mitch Haas, Roni Evans, Brent Leininger, Jay Triano

Published on PubMed

Spinal manipulation/mobilization is effective in adults for: acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain; migraine and cervicogenic headache; cervicogenic dizziness; manipulation/mobilization is effective for several extremity joint conditions; and thoracic manipulation/mobilization is effective for acute/subacute neck pain.

Following a review (by the UK government’s independant Advertising Standards Authority  of the Bronfort et al Review in 2010) they accept that osteopaths may claim to help a variety of medical conditions, including:

• generalised aches and pains,
• joint pains including hip and knee pain from osteoarthritis as an adjunct to core OA treatments and exercise
• arthritic pain,
• general, acute & chronic backache, back pain (not arising from injury or accident)
• uncomplicated mechanical neck pain (as opposed to neck pain following injury i.e. whiplash)
• headache arising from the neck (cervicogenic) / migraine prevention
• frozen shoulder/ shoulder and elbow pain/ tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) arising from associated musculoskeletal conditions of the back and neck, but not isolated occurrences
• circulatory problems,
• cramp,
• digestion problems,
• joint pains, lumbago,
• sciatica,
• muscle spasms,
• neuralgia,
• fibromyalgia,
• inability to relax,
• rheumatic pain,
• minor sports injuries and tensions.

Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain: an update of a Cochrane review.

Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, Assendelft WJ, de Boer MR, van Tulder MW.

Published in Spine

High-quality evidence suggests that there is no clinically relevant difference between spinal manipulative therapy and other interventions for reducing pain and improving function in patients with chronic low-back pain. Determining cost-effectiveness of care has high priority.

A ‘system based’ approach to risk assessment of the cervical spine prior to manual therapy.

Alan J. Taylor, Roger Kerry

Published in International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathy Australia