Fibromyalgia with Gabapentin and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine: A Pilot Study

J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Apr;24(4):395-402. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0178. Epub 2018 Jan 3.


Objectives: This pilot study compares the safety and efficacy of three treatments in reducing pain and improving fibromyalgia symptoms.

Design: This study was an 8-week prospective, single center feasibility study.

Setting and subjects: Forty subjects were recruited from Solano, Sonoma, and Contra Costa counties of California in 2006-2009. Subjects were aged 18-65 and met the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 1990 criteria for fibromyalgia.

Interventions: This study had three treatment arms: gabapentin only (900 mg/day), osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) only, and combined treatment of gabapentin plus OMM. OMM treatment was administered by advanced medical students for 30 min, once a week. The trial lasted for 8 weeks, which included 6 weeks of treatment plus initial and final visits.

Outcome measures: Key outcome measures included Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale (WBF), Clinical Global Impression of Health (CGI), Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), and number of tender points.

Results: Twenty-nine subjects completed the trial; 8 subjects received gabapentin only, 11 patients received OMM only, and 10 patients received gabapentin plus OMM. Subjects receiving OMM alone and subjects receiving the combined treatment of OMM and gabapentin displayed clinical improvements based on WBF (p < 0.01 and p = 0.03, respectively), while the change among the gabapentin-only group was nonsignificant. The OMM only group was the only group to experience a significant decline in CGI scale (p < 0.01). No statistically significant changes were observed with the FIQ or number of tender points. No differences across groups were statistically significant. This is to be expected in a feasibility study with a small sample size.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that OMM treatment and gabapentin are safe and clinically efficacious treatment of pain and other constitutional and somatic symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. A larger trial using the new ACR 2010 Fibromyalgia criteria is needed to confirm these findings.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; fibromyalgia; gabapentin; osteopathic manipulative medicine; somatic dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Amines / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Gabapentin
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Amines
  • Analgesics
  • Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Gabapentin