Osteopathy for musculoskeletal pain patients: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Feb;30(2):285-91. doi: 10.1007/s10067-010-1600-6. Epub 2010 Oct 30.


The objective of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness of osteopathy as a treatment option for musculoskeletal pain. Six databases were searched from their inception to August 2010. Only randomized clinical trials (RCTs) were considered if they tested osteopathic manipulation/mobilization against any control intervention or no therapy in human with any musculoskeletal pain in any anatomical location, and if they assessed pain as an outcome measure. The selection of studies, data extraction, and validation were performed independently by two reviewers. Studies of chiropractic manipulations were excluded. Sixteen RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Their methodological quality ranged between 1 and 4 on the Jadad scale (max = 5). Five RCTs suggested that osteopathy compared to various control interventions leads to a significantly stronger reduction of musculoskeletal pain. Eleven RCTs indicated that osteopathy compared to controls generates no change in musculoskeletal pain. Collectively, these data fail to produce compelling evidence for the effectiveness of osteopathy as a treatment of musculoskeletal pain.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic
  • Musculoskeletal System / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome