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Treating chronic back pain: a role for osteopathic manipulation?

Back injuries are one of the most common types of work injury. Indeed, they are one of the most common types of injury - period.

Not surprisingly, then, problems with back pain are frequently involved in workers' compensation claims in Maryland and across the country.

Because the problem of chronic back pain affects so many people, researchers continue to seek new ways to treat it. In one recent study, the use of osteopathic stimulation appeared to provide a modest reduction of symptoms for some sufferers from chronic pain the lower back.

The study was, as one might expect, led by a doctor of osteopathic medicine. It should be noted that osteopathy is not a traditional form of medicine. Osteopathy is a system that emphasizes the musculoskeletal system as central to health. In that respect, it is in some ways similar to chiropractic medicine.

Traditional medicine has tended to disregard both osteopathic and chiropractic approaches. Indeed, for doctors strictly committed to the traditional approach, using the word "medicine" in conjunction with "osteopathic" or "chiropractic" may seem like an oxymoron.

But traditional medicine does not have a monopoly on approaches for treating chronic back pain. After all, many people have found osteopathic or chiropractic approaches helpful.

In the treatment of back pain, an osteopathic approach involves the manipulation of joints to get them back in place. It also emphasizes relaxing strained muscles and the use of massage on soft tissue injuries.

In the recent study, researchers concluded that osteopathic manipulation can achieve modest reduction in symptoms for at least some people with chronic lower back pain.

Source: "Back manipulation may help relieve chronic pain," Fox News / Reuters, 3-26-13

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