International Overview of Somatic Dysfunction Assessment and Treatment in Osteopathic Research: A Scoping Review

Healthcare (Basel). 2021 Dec 24;10(1):28. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10010028.


Background: Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is a patient-centred, whole-body intervention aimed at enhance the person's self-regulation. OMT interventions are focused on somatic dysfunctions (SD) that can be defined as an altered regulative function associated with inflammatory signs palpable in the body framework in different body regions. The conceptual model that sustains SD, as well as its usefulness for the osteopathic profession, is still being discussed by the osteopathic community. Understanding the role and the application of SD is the aim of this scoping review.

Methods: A literature search was carried out through the main biomedical databases: Pubmed (Medline), Cochrane, Central (Cochrane), Embase, PEDro and Scopus. Grey literature was considered via Google Scholar and the Osteopathic Research Web. The review was prepared by referring to the "Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis extension for Scoping Reviews" (PRISMA-ScR).

Results: A total of 37,279 records were identified through database searching and other sources. After the duplicates were removed, 27,023 titles and abstracts were screened. A total of 1495 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. The qualitative synthesis included 280 studies.

Conclusions: Treating SD is an important part of osteopathic practice that varies from country to country. SD should be considered as a clinical value that assists in the clinical assessment and guides the decision-making process of osteopathic practitioners. Further studies should be designed to better understand why and how to choose the different assessment and intervention modalities to approach SD and to evaluate new osteopathic models.

Keywords: manual therapy; osteopathic manipulative treatment; osteopathic techniques; somatic dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review