Context: Osteopathic manipulative treatment has been reported to relieve a variety of conditions, but no studies have examined the outcome effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment as a complementary modality for treating musculoskeletal problems during postoperative recovery.
Objective: To assess osteopathic manipulative treatment as a complementary therapy for patients undergoing elective knee or hip arthroplasty.
Design: Prospective, single-blinded, 2-group, match-controlled outcome study.
Setting: Osteopathic teaching hospital.
Patients: Of 166 eligible patients, 38 were assigned to a treatment group and matched with 38 control subjects.
Intervention: The treatment group received osteopathic manipulative treatment on postoperative days 2 through 5.
Main outcome measures: Days to independent negotiation of stairs, distance ambulated, supplemental intramuscular analgesic use, length of hospital stay, and patients' perceptions of treatment.
Results: Compared to control subjects, the intervention group negotiated stairs 20% earlier (mean = 4.3 postoperative days, SD = 1.2; control subjects 5.4, SD = 1.6, P = .006) and ambulated 43% farther on the third postoperative day (mean = 24.3 m, SD = 18.3; controls = 13.9, SD = 14.4, P = .008). The intervention group also required less analgesia, had shorter hospital stays, and ambulated farther on postoperative days 1, 2, and 4.
Conclusions: Patients receiving osteopathic manipulative treatment in the early postoperative period negotiated stairs earlier and ambulated greater distances than did control group patients.