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Osteopathy may reduce lower-back pain in new mothers

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Osteopathic manipulative therapy can significantly reduce lower-back pain after pregnancy, according to German researchers.

The therapy decreased postpartum low back pain by over 70% in women who had given birth at least three months before beginning treatment, according to a study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

“It’s well documented that low back pain is a common issue that hinders their quality of life during an already stressful time”

Jennifer Caudle

The eight-week study surveyed 80 women experiencing low back pain three to 15 months postpartum.

Women in the study group received four osteopathy treatments at two week intervals. Those in the control group did not receive osteopathy and were not allowed to receive any additional pain relief treatment, such as medication or therapy.

On average, patients who received osteopathy reported a 73% decrease in pain, compared to only 7% in the control group.

Pain was assessed by a 10-point Visual Analogue Scale and functional disability as measured by the Oswestry Disability Index.

Jennifer Caudle, assistant professor of family medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, said: “Women who’ve recently given birth are rarely studied beyond screening for postpartum depression and delivery complications, even though it’s well documented that low back pain is a common issue that hinders their quality of life during an already stressful time.

“This study shows that osteopathic manipulative therapy can relieve their pain without medication that could be passed to a breastfeeding infant,” she said.

It is estimated that about 50% of pregnant women suffer from some kind of lower back pain either during or after their pregnancies, added the study authors.

The symptoms may start during the first trimester of pregnancy, during labour or in the postpartum period, they note.

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