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 Osteopathy: Osteopathic Research 

In clinical situations a variety of findings over the years have tended to validate the osteopathic concept. One such investigation related to the study of the relationship between disorders of the pelvic and thoracic organs, and spinal findings. It was ascertained that the following three palpable findings occurred in statistically significant numbers of tests: Restricted intervertebral motion occurring alone. Restricted intervertebral motion occurring in combination with abnormal vertebral position. Restricted intervertebral motion occurring in combination with abnormal paravertebral musculature.

The cases assessed were of uncomplicated disorders of the heart, aorta, bronchii and lungs (86 cases) and disorders of the female genitalia (101 cases).

Research was carried out in 1965 at Los Angeles County Osteopathic Hospital into the effects of osteopathic care of children with pneumonia. [6] Here 239 cases of various types of pneumonia in children over a three year period were analysed. The results showed that there was a favourable comparison with results of treatment in non-osteopathic institutions of a similar nature.

Around the same time research was also conducted into the possibility of a musculo-skeletal connection in cases of cardiac disorder, and the results yielded strong evidence of such a correlation. [7] Palpatory, and x-ray findings, as well as prior fluoroscopic and E. C. G. readings, showed that a majority of the 150 patients in the tests had associated asymmetrical spiral aberrations and corrective spinal treatment was consistently found to be followed by varying degrees of relief from cardiac symptoms. These changes were reflected in objective clinical and laboratory tests.

More recently, in 1981, doctors at Riverside Osteopathic Hospital in Trenton, Michigan, undertook an investigation to establish the existence of a viscero-somatic reflex that could be easily detectable and which would correlate with the presence of athero-sclerotic coronary artery disease. In all, 88 consecutive cases, each suggesting coronary disease, underwent cardiac catheterization, and within one week of this, each patient in turn was given standard osteopathic musculo-skeletal evaluation (pain, range of movement, soft tissue texture etc.) by an examiner unaware of the results of the cardiac catheter probe. The results showed a correlation between coronary atherosclerosis and abnormalities of range of motion and soft tissue texture in the fourth and fifth thoracic and the third cervical intervertebral segments. [8]

At the same time research at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine demonstrated that there occurs a definite, measurable and significant drop in the intraocular pressure following osteopathic manipulative therapy. [9] This is of great significance to patients with chronic open angle glaucoma.

Such research efforts are constantly being undertaken to establish the value of osteopathic treatment, and the fundamental and far-reaching results obtained by Professor Korr and others, as well as the cumulative evidence of many groups and individuals in the clinical field, have gone a long way towards this end already.

1. "The Neural Basis of the Osteopathic Lesion', The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 47: 191-198 (1947).
2. 'The Trophic Function of Nerves and Their Mechanisms', The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 72:163-171 (1972).
3. 'The Spinal Cord as Organizer of Disease Processes', The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Vol. 80, No. 7, page 458.
4. Osteopathic Medicine, Hoag, Cole and Bradford (McGraw Hill 1969).
5. 'A Clinical Investigation of the Osteopathic Examination', Kelso, Larson and Kappler, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Vol. 79, No. 7, page 460.
6. 'Pneumonia Research in Children at L.A.C. Osteopathic Hospital', Warson and Percival, Yearbook of the Academy of Applied Osteopathy, 1965, page 152.
7. 'A Somatic Component in Heart Disease', Richard Koch D.O., The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 1961.
8. 'Palpatory Musculo-skeletal Findings in Coronary Artery Disease: Results of a Double Blind Study', Cox, Rogers, Gorbis, Dick and Rogers, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, July 1981.
9. 'Evaluation of Intraocular Tension Following Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy', Paul Misischia D.O., The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, July 1981.
(Excerpted from Osteopathy: A Complete Health Care System )
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 About The Author
Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
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