Scientific Studies: Osteopathy

Osteopathy is a manual approach that relies on abnormalities in the tissues. This is a technique that has become popular in recent years and with good reason; osteopathy can be useful for a variety of problems with an extremely broad spectrum of individuals, that is to say as much for newborns as for the elderly. We have decided to present several studies that have been done on the subject, hoping to provide you with more concrete information. This blog post will show you studies that look at the effect of osteopathy on the autonomic nervous system, chest pain related to the ribs, lower back pain and migraines.

First, let's look at research that links the autonomic nervous system to osteopathy. In this study, the autonomic nervous system was measured in terms of heart rate variabilities which is defined by the variation of waves on an electrocardiogram. This is an indirect way of representing the autonomic nervous system, because this system manages the cardiac system. Looking at the frequencies in three study groups (osteopathic, sham, and control group), they found statistically significant changes. These results suggest that osteopathy has the possibility of modifying the autonomic nervous system by modulating the parasympathetic system. The parasympathetic branch, in addition to having an effect on heart rate, has anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive properties which may possibly play a role in reducing pain following osteopathic treatment. 1

By staying around the heart, osteopathy can have an effect on chest pain. This article follows the cases of three patients with intercostal pain, sometimes diagnosed Cyriax syndrome or Tietze syndrome. These individuals underwent medical examinations including computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which did not demonstrate acute pathology. After performing the proper tests to diagnose, the doctor used two methods of treatment. The first is "intercostal nerve block" but this does not provide long term relief. This treatment is only effective in cases of acute pain so that the patient can tolerate the manipulations that follow. The second method is osteopathic manipulations. In all three patients, the pain went away and did not reappear in follow-up appointments.2

In addition, lower back pain affects many people, which is especially common in the military due to rigorous training. These lower back pains can be dangerous for a pilot, for example. This article presents the case of a pilot with 4000 flying hours and daily lower back pain for two/three years. After a week of therapy, his pain was reduced by 80%. The pilot received treatment in the hamstrings, glutes, sacrum, pelvis and lumbar region, which led to a decrease in his lower back pain.3

Now the migraines. They affect a large number of people. For those who have ever suffered from a migraine, you know that it is characterized by headaches which can be throbbing, aggravated by everyday tasks, which can be associated with nausea and photophobia (painful eye reaction to light). Often people complain that medications do not have enough effect on the intensity and duration of migraines. The study therefore assessed the effectiveness of osteopathic techniques on 105 people suffering an average of 22.5 migraine days per month. After 8 treatments of 30 min for a duration of 24 weeks, they noticed clinically significant benefits. This was assessed using a test called "HIT-6" which measures the impact of headaches.4

In conclusion, these statistics demonstrate that osteopathy can have benefits for the central nervous system, chest pain, lower back pain and migraines. Instead of believing the scientific studies that have been published in recognized journals, why not try it yourself? The Kinesis Center has several therapists who can offer you osteopathic care. To learn more about our therapists, visit our website: https://centrekinesis.com/osteopathie/


NB: Osteopaths cannot make a diagnosis; this is reserved for the doctor.


  1. Ruffini N., D'Alessandro G., Mariani N., Pollastrelli A., Cardinali L., Cerritelli F. Variations of high frequency paramter of heart rate variability following osteopathic manipulative treatment in healthy subjects compared to control group and sham therapy: randomized controlled trial. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2015; 9:272
  2. Germanochi A., Ferrante FM. Multiple-model treatment approach to painful rib syndrome: case series and review of the literature. Bread Physician Journal. 2016; 19:E465-E471
  3. LT Andicochea CT., LT Fulkerson J., LCDR Taylor BM., CAPT Portouw SJ. Manual therapy for chronic lower back pain in an F-5 pilot. Military Medicine. 2015; 180:E1132-E1135
  4. Cerritelli F., Ginevri L., Messi G., Caprari E., Di Vincenzo M., Renzetti C., Cozzolino V., Barlafante G., Foschi N., Provinciali L. Clinical effectiveness of osteopathic treatment in chronic migraine: 3 -armed randomized controlled trial. Complementary therapies in medicine. 2015; 23:149-156

To see other studies in the press, consult: https//www.journalofosteopathicmedicine.com/inpress