A new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine says that osteopathic manipulative therapy leads to short term pain relief in patients suffering from chronic lower back pain. I sat down with Dr. Ephraim K. Brenman, TSAOG’s resident osteopath and a specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, to discuss this therapy.
What does it mean to be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)?
To become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, you go through traditional medical training in addition to training in osteopathic manipulative therapy.
What is osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT)?
Osteopathic manipulative therapy is basically using your hands as tools to heal. It can range from high velocity work (the pop, crack kind of stuff that people associate with chiropractors) to soft tissue manipulation.
Do you use OMT in your practice to treat patients with low back pain?
Yes, absolutely. OMT is one of the best treatments for patients with lower back pain.
What kind of results have you seen using OMT with this patient population?
I’ve seen really good short term results, especially when OMT is used in combination with a home exercise program.
When you say short term results, what time frame are you describing?
With OMT, patients can usually expect pain relief lasting 2-4 weeks.
The new study also found that ultrasound therapy is not as effective as OMT for patients with lower back pain. Have you found this to be the case in your practice?
Yes, ultrasound therapy basically uses radio waves to loosen tissue and that’s never going to be as effective as physically loosening tissue to relieve pain. However, I think using ultrasound therapy in tandem with OMT might yield more desirable results.
For patients who suffer from low back pain, short term pain relief may not sound like enough of a solution. How do you get from short term pain relief to a long term solution for these patients?
Patients can undergo 4-6 treatments of OMT, but I encourage OMT along with a home exercise regimen to loosen tissue clinically and then keep things loose while strengthening trouble areas at home. Most patients who go through this process can transition from clinical treatment with OMT into just using their home exercise program as a long term solution for their low back pain.
Dr. Ephraim K. Brenman is a physiatrist with additional fellowship training in spine and sports medicine. He specializes in non-surgical spinal care and pain management and treats patients aged 12 years and up. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Brenman, please call 210-281-9595.