Background Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has a complex pathology, high prevalence and large impact on patients' quality of life. As conventional therapy may yield unsatisfactory results, a more holistic approach may be desirable. The current study assessed the effect of micro-physiotherapy on the severity of IBS symptoms. Methods In a double-blind study, 61 recurrent IBS patients were randomised to two sessions of micro-physiotherapy or sham micro-physiotherapy. Inclusion criteria were the presence of ≥1 IBS symptom from abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea or bloating. Exclusion criteria were previous major intestinal surgery and the presence of chronic diseases. The mean patient age was 53.5±15.3 years. Micro-physiotherapy consisted of micro-palpatory examination to identify osteopathic lesions, followed by micro-massage to stimulate self-healing. The control group underwent a sham procedure. The presence and severity of symptoms was assessed at baseline and at 1-month follow-up by the same gastroenterologist. Results Two patients did not complete the study. There was a significant difference in percentage of patients that improved after the first session, at 74 % for the micro-physiotherapy group and 38 % for the sham group, respectively (p=0.005). After the second session, the initial improvement was maintained in both groups, although with no further gains, and the differences between the study groups remained significant (p=0.007). Conclusions Micro-physiotherapy significantly improves IBS symptoms and should be explored further for use in mainstream healthcare.
Keywords: integrative medicine; irritable bowel syndrome; randomised controlled trial.