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Spinal Cord. 2011 Apr;49(4):515-9. doi: 10.1038/sc.2010.170. Epub 2010 Dec 7.

Osteopathic manipulative treatment is effective on pain control associated to spinal cord injury.

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Department of Research, Istituto Superiore di Ospeopatia, Milano, Italy.



This study was designed as an experimental study (trial).


To verify the effects of the association between conventional pharmacological treatment and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for chronic pain management in spinal cord injury (SCI).


This study was carried out at Spinal Unit, Ospedale Niguarda Ca' Granda, Milan, Italy. Istituto Superiore di Osteopatia, Milan, Italy.


We enrolled 47 patients with SCI, 26 with pain of both nociceptive and neuropathic origin, and 21 with pure neuropathic pain. In all, 33 patients had a complete spinal cord lesion (ASIA level A) and 14 had incomplete lesion (ASIA level B, C and D). The patients were subdivided in a pharmacological group (Ph), a pharmacological osteopathic (PhO) group and a osteopathic (Os) group. The verbal numeric scale (VNS) was used at various time intervals to evaluate treatment outcomes.


Ph patients reached a 24% improvement in their pain perception, assessed by the VNS scale after 3 weeks of treatment, whereas Os patients reached a 16% improvement in their pain perception for the same weeks. Both treatments per se failed to induce further improvements at later time points. In contrast, the combination of the two approaches yielded a significantly better pain relief both in patients with nociceptive or pure neuropathic pain in the PhO group.


Our results suggest the OMT is a feasible approach in patients in whom available drugs cannot be used. Moreover, a benefit can be expected by the association of OMT in patients treated according to existing pharmacological protocols.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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