MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

osteopathy

Charles III is about to pay his first visit to France, his second visit to any state. Earlier this year, he has already visited Germany. Originally, France had been first on his list but the event was cancelled in view of the violent protests that rocked the country at the time. Now he is definitely expected and the French are exited. I am currently in France and have been asked to give several interviews on the king’s love affair with so-called alternative medicine (SCAM).

The French have long been fascinated by our royal family which seems a bit odd considering what they did to their own. Now that Charles and Camilla are about to appear with an entourage of about 50 servants between them, the press is full with slightly bemused reports and comments:

Since childhood, Charles has been accustomed to a luxurious, gilded life, which is reproduced on every trip outside the royal palaces, to ensure maximum service, comfort and security… The new king always travels with his private secretary, Sir Clive Alderton, his press advisor, his steward, his doctor, his personal valets, his security guards, and his private chauffeur, Tim Williams… And, of course, his regular osteopath to relieve his lower back. Since he’s had a lot of falls playing polo, Charles regularly suffers from back pain…”.

Really, just an osteopath?

What about all the other SCAM-practitioners whose businesses Charles so regularly supported in the past:

  • · Acupuncture
  • · Aromatherapy
  • · Ayurveda
  • · Chiropractic
  • · Detox
  • · Gerson therapy
  • · Herbal medicine
  • · Homeopathy
  • · Iridology
  • · Marma massage
  • · Massage therapy
  • · Pulse diagnosis
  • · Reflexology
  • · Tongue diagnosis
  • · Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • · Yoga

Will they not be disappointed?

I do wonder who Charles’ osteopath and doctor are. Are they competent? I am sure they both must be well-informed and evidence-based experts. If that is the case, they will have, of course, told Charles that osteopathy is hardly an optimal solution for an injured back.

In any case, now I am concerned about the royal back and therefore urgently recommend that HIS MAJESTY reads some of my previous posts on the subject, e.g.:

Let’s hope all goes well here in France, and please let’s not be so akward as to ask about the environmental aspects – we all know how worried Charles truly is about not just his health but also the health of the planet – of moving such an entourage for a two-day visit.

PS

Charles flew in a private jet from London to Paris and took his Bentley with him.

The aim of this systematic review was to update the current level of evidence for spinal manipulation in influencing various biochemical markers in healthy and/or symptomatic population.

Various databases were searched (inception till May 2023) and fifteen trials (737 participants) that met the inclusion criteria were included in the review. Two authors independently screened, extracted and assessed the risk of bias in included studies. Outcome measure data were synthesized using standard mean differences and meta-analysis for the primary outcome (biochemical markers). The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) was used for assessing the quality of the body of evidence for each outcome of interest.

There was low-quality evidence that spinal manipulation influenced various biochemical markers (not pooled). There was low-quality evidence of significant difference that spinal manipulation is better (SMD -0.42, 95% CI – 0.74 to -0.1) than control in eliciting changes in cortisol levels immediately after intervention. Low-quality evidence further indicated (not pooled) that spinal manipulation can influence inflammatory markers such as interleukins levels post-intervention. There was also very low-quality evidence that spinal manipulation does not influence substance-P, neurotensin, oxytocin, orexin-A, testosterone and epinephrine/nor-epinephrine.

The authors concluded that spinal manipulation may influence inflammatory and cortisol post-intervention. However, the wider prediction intervals in most outcome measures point to the need for future research to clarify and establish the clinical relevance of these changes.

The majority of the studies were of low or very low quality. This means that the collective evidence is less than reliable. In turn, this means, I think, that the conclusions are misleading. A more honest conclusion would be this:

There is no reliable evidence that spinal manipulation influences inflammatory and cortisol levels.

As for the clinical relevance, I would like to point out that it would not be surprising if chiropractors could one day convincingly show that spinal manipulation do influence various biochemical markers. Many things do! If you fall down a staircase, for instance, plenty of biochemical markers will be affected. This, however, does not mean that throwing our patients down the stairs is of therapeutic value.

This study aimed to compare the effects of cognitive functional therapy (CFT) and movement system impairment (MSI)-based treatment on pain intensity, disability, Kinesiophobia, and gait kinetics in patients with chronic non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP).

In a single-blind randomized clinical trial, the researchers randomly assigned 91 patients with CNSLBP into CFT (n = 45) and MSI-based treatment (n = 46) groups. An 8-week training intervention was given to both groups. The researchers measured the primary outcome, which was pain intensity (Numeric rating scale), and the secondary outcomes, including disability (Oswestry disability index), Kinesiophobia (Tampa Kinesiophobia Scale), and vertical ground reaction force (VGRF) parameters at self-selected and faster speed (Force distributor treadmill). They evaluated patients at baseline, at the end of the 8-week intervention (post-treatment), and six months after the first treatment. Mixed-model ANOVA was used to evaluate the effects of the interaction between time (baseline vs. post-treatment vs. six-month follow-up) and group (CFT vs. MSI-based treatment) on each measure.

CFT showed superiority over MSI-based treatment in reducing pain intensity (P < 0.001, Effect size (ES) = 2.41), ODI (P < 0.001, ES = 2.15), and Kinesiophobia (P < 0.001, ES = 2.47) at eight weeks. The CFT also produced greater improvement in VGRF parameters, at both self-selected (FPF[P < 0.001, ES = 3], SPF[P < 0.001, ES = 0.5], MSF[P < 0.001, ES = 0.67], WAR[P < 0.001, ES = 1.53], POR[P < 0.001, ES = 0.8]), and faster speed, FPF(P < 0.001, ES = 1.33, MSF(P < 0.001, ES = 0.57), WAR(P < 0.001, ES = 0.67), POR(P < 0.001, ES = 2.91)] than the MSI, except SPF(P < 0.001, ES = 0.0) at eight weeks.

The authors concluded that this study suggests that the CFT is associated with better results in clinical and cognitive characteristics than the MSI-based treatment for CNSLBP, and the researchers maintained the treatment effects at six-month follow-up. Also, This study achieved better improvements in gait kinetics in CFT. CTF seems to be an appropriate and applicable treatment in clinical setting.

To understand this  study, we need to know what CFT and MSI exactly entailed. Here is the information that the authors provide:

Movement system impairment-based treatment

The movement system impairment-based treatment group received 11 sessions of MSI-based treatment over the 8 weeks for 60 min per session with a supervision of a native speaker experienced (above 5 years) physical therapist with the knowledge of MSI-based treatment. The researchers designed the MSI-based treatment uniquely for each patient based on the interview, clinical examination, and questionnaires, just like they did with the CFT intervention. First, they administered standardized tests to characterize changes in the patient’s low back pain symptoms, and then they modified the treatment to make it more specific based on the participant’s individual symptoms. Depending on the participant’s direction-specific low back pain classification, they performed the intervention following one of the five MSI subgroups namely [1] rotation, [2] extension, [3] flexion, [4] rotation with extension, and [5] rotation with flexion. Finally, Patients treated using the standardized MSI protocol as follows: [1] education regarding normal postures and movements such as sitting, walking, bending, standing, and lying down; [2] education regarding exercises to perform trunk movements as painlessly as possible; and [3] prescription of functional exercises to improve trunk movement [32].

Cognitive functional therapy

Cognitive functional therapy was prescribed for each patient in CFT group based the CFT protocol conducted by O’Sullivan et al. (2015). Patients received supervised 12 sessions of training over the 8-week period with 60 min per session provided with another physical therapist who had been trained in CFT treatment. In this protocol, a physical therapist with more than 5 years of experience conducted an interview and physical examination of the patients to determine their own unique training programs, considering modifiable cognitive, biopsychosocial, functional, and lifestyle behavior factors. The intervention consists of the following 3 main stages: [1] making sense of pain that is completely reflective, where physical therapist could use the context of the patient’s own story to provide a new understanding of their condition and question their old beliefs [2] exposure with control which is designed to normalize maladaptive or provocative movement and posture related to activities of daily living that is integrated into each patient’s functional impairments, including teaching how to relax trunk muscles, how to have normal body posture while sitting, lying, bending, lifting, moving, and standing, and how to avoid pain behaviors, which aims to break poor postural habits; and [3] lifestyle change which is investigating the influence of unhealthy lifestyles in the patient’s pain context. Assessing the individual’s body mass, nutrition, quality of sleep, levels of physical activity or sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and other factors via video calls. Identifying such lifestyle factors helped us to individually advise and design exercise programs, rebuild self-confidence and self-efficacy, promote changes in lifestyle, and design coping strategies.

I must admit that I am not fully convinced.

Firstly, the study was not large and we need – as the authors state – more evidence. Secondly, I am not sure that the results show  CFT to be more effective that MSI. They might merely indicate 1) that the bulk of the improvement is due to non-specific effects (e.g. reression towards the mean, natural history of the condition, placebo) and 2) that CFT is less harmful than MSI.

My conclusion:

we need not just more but better evidence.

The ‘ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME’ is my creation amd is meant to honour reserchers who have dedicated much of their professional career to investigating a form of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) without ever publishing negative conclusions about it. Obviously, if anyone studies any therapy, he/she will occasionally produce a negative finding. This would be the case, even if he/she tests an effective treatment. However, if the treatment in question comes from the realm of SCAM, one would expect negative results fairly regularly. No therapy works well under all conditions, and to the best of my knowledge, no SCAM is a panacea!

This is why researchers who defy this inevitability must be remarkable. If someone tests a treatment that is at best dubious and at worst bogus, we are bound to see some studies that are not positive. He/she would thus have a high or norma ‘TRUSTWORTHINESS INDEX‘ (another creation of mine which, I think, is fairly self-explanatory). Conversely, any researcher who does manage to publish nothing but positive results of a SCAM is bound to have a very low ‘TRUSTWORTHINESS INDEX‘. In other words, these people are special, so much so that  I decided to honour such ‘geniuses’ by admitting them to my ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE OF FAME.

So far, this elite group of people comprises the following individuals:

  1. Tery Oleson (acupressure , US)
  2. Jorge Vas (acupuncture, Spain)
  3. Wane Jonas (homeopathy, US)
  4. Harald Walach (various SCAMs, Germany)
  5. Andreas Michalsen ( various SCAMs, Germany)
  6. Jennifer Jacobs (homeopath, US)
  7. Jenise Pellow (homeopath, South Africa)
  8. Adrian White (acupuncturist, UK)
  9. Michael Frass (homeopath, Austria)
  10. Jens Behnke (research officer, Germany)
  11. John Weeks (editor of JCAM, US)
  12. Deepak Chopra (entrepreneur, US)
  13. Cheryl Hawk (chiropractor, US)
  14. David Peters (osteopathy, homeopathy, UK)
  15. Nicola Robinson (TCM, UK)
  16. Peter Fisher (homeopathy, UK)
  17. Simon Mills (herbal medicine, UK)
  18. Gustav Dobos (various SCAMs, Germany)
  19. Claudia Witt (homeopathy, Germany/Switzerland)
  20. George Lewith (acupuncture, UK)
  21. John Licciardone (osteopathy, US)

Today, it is my great pleasure to admit another osteopath to the HALL OF FAME:

Helge Franke

Helge is a German Heilpraktiker and Osteopath. On his website, he lists his publications (kindly saving me the effort of doing a Medline search):

  1. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Muskuloskeletal Disorders, 2014
  2. Effectiveness of osteopathc manipulative therapy for managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 2014
  3. Why reservations remain: A critical reflection about the systematic review and meta-analysis “Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back pain” by Licciardone et al. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012, Elsevier
  4. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) in Women. A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012, Elsevier
  5. Comment: Is a postural-structural-biomechanical model, within manual therapy, viable? A JBMT debate. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2011) 15, 259-261, Elsevier
  6. Die manuelle Behandlung des Kniegelenks – veraltetes Verfahren oder alternative Option? Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin 9-2010, 1019-1026, Pflaum Verlag
  7. CRPS und Osteopathie – Grenzen und Möglichkeiten DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 3-2010, 6-8, Hippokrates Verlag
  8. Research and osteopathy: An interview with Dr Gary Fryer by Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. 14, 304-308, Elsevier
  9. „…there is not much we can say without any doubt“ DO Life about Gary Fryer DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 1-2010, 4-5, Hippokrates Verlag
  10. Fred Mitchell und die Entwicklung der Muskel-Energie-Techniken DO – Deutsche Zeitschrift für Osteopathie 2-2009, 4-5, Hippokrates Verlag
  11. A randomized trial of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 354-5, Karger
  12. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization. Commentary Forschende Komplementärmedizin 2008 Dec 15(6), 353-4, Karger
  13. Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 1 Osteopathische Medizin, 2/2007, S.15-21, Elsevier
  14. Interview mit Prof. Eyal Lederman Teil 2 Osteopathische Medizin, 3/2007, S.22-27, Elsevier
  15. Artikel über das 3. Internationale Symposium über die Fortschritte in der osteopathischen Forschung. Osteopathische Medizin, 1-2007, S.23-24, Elsevier
  16. Die richtige Haltung des Behandlers Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.8-10, Elsevier
  17. Interview mit Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S. 11-16, Elsevier
  18. Herausgeber des Sonderheftes „Functional Technique” Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, Elsevier
  19. Harold Hoover, Charles Bowles, William Johnston und die Geschichte der Funktionellen Technik Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.4-12, Elsevier
  20. Interview mit Harry Friedman Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.25-30, Elsevier
  21. Funktionelle Technik – Praxis Osteopathische Medizin, 2-2006, S.17-23, Elsevier
  22. Osteopathische Diagnose und Behandlung des Hüftgelenks Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 10-2006, S.1383-1393, Pflaum-Verlag
  23. Bericht über das 2-Tage Seminar von Prof. Laurie Hartman in München Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 5-2006, S.754-755, Pflaum Verlag
  24. Bewusstsein für Bewegung. Die minimale Hebeltechnik und das Behandlungskonzept von Laurie Hartman Osteopathische Medizin, 4-2006, S.4-7, Elsevier
  25. ICAOR 6 / Interview mit Florian Schwerla Osteopathische Medizin, 3-2006, S.15-17, Elsevier
  26. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 1 Geschichte Osteopathische Medizin 2-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  27. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 2 Modell Osteopathische Medizin 3-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  28. Muscle Energy Technique – Geschichte, Modell und Wirksamkeit Teil 3 Wirksamkeit Osteopathische Medizin 4-2005, S.4-10, Elsevier
  29. Die Behandlung der Rippen mit Muskel-Energie-Techniken Naturheilpraxis mit Naturmedizin, 10-2005, S. 1353-1359, Pflaum Verlag

Yes, I agree! The list is confusing because it contains all sorts of papers, including even interviews. Let’s do a Medline search after all and find the actual studies published by Franke:

  1. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in women. Franke H, Hoesele K.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013 Jan;17(1):11-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 17.
  2. Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment for pediatric conditions: A systematic review. Franke H, Franke JD, Fryer G.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2022 Jul;31:113-133. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2022.03.013. Epub 2022 Mar 24.
  3. Muscle energy technique for non-specific low-back pain. Franke H, Fryer G, Ostelo RW, Kamper SJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Feb 27;(2):CD009852. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009852.pub2.
  4. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Franke H, Franke JD, Fryer G.BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014 Aug 30;15:286. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-15-286.
    Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative therapy for managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Müller A, Franke H, Resch KL, Fryer G.J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 Jun;114(6):470-9. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.098.
  5. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for low back and pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Franke H, Franke JD, Belz S, Fryer G.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2017 Oct;21(4):752-762. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.05.014. Epub 2017 May 31.
  6. Evidence-informed management of chronic low back pain with spinal manipulation and mobilization Franke H.Forsch Komplementmed. 2008 Dec;15(6):353-4
  7. Osteopathic manipulative treatment for chronic nonspecific neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis Helge Franke, Jan-David Franke, Gary Fryer, 2015 Int J Osteop Med.

Not a huge list, I agree. Yet it is respectable, particularly if we consider that Franke managed to squeeze out a little positive message even from cases where the data are fairly clearly negative. Another thing that I find noteworthy is the fact that Franke, as far as I can see, never published a clinical trial. He seems to specialize in reviews – and perhaps that is understandable: if one is compelled to spinning the message from fairly negative evidence to a positive conclusion, reviews might be better suited.

Altogether, I think Helge Franke deserves his place in the ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE HALL OF FAME!

The case of a 91-year old male patient developing acute neuropathic pain along the sciatic nerve distribution following spinal manipulation has been reported. Manipulative treatment with an Activator Adjusting Instrument (AAI) had been performed. During this treatment, three applications of the AAI were administered. The applications were bilateral (1) over the sacroiliac joint, (2) gluteal area, and (3) paraspinal region just above the iliac crest.

Within 24 hours, the patient developed severe 10/10 pain originating from the left gluteal area at the site of one of the activator deployments with radiation all the way down his left leg to the foot. He was able to maintain distal left leg strength and sensation. Subsequently, the patient developed insomnia, confusion, and adrenal gland dysfunction in response to changes in steroids, gabapentin, and other drugs, thus highlighting some nuances of managing elderly patients with back pain.

Relief was achieved with subsequent physical therapy techniques aimed at relaxing the patient’s deep gluteal muscles, raising the hypothesis of temporary injury to the deep gluteal muscles, with painful contractions resulting in gluteal region pain as well as sciatic nerve inflammation as the nerve passed through that region.

The authors concluded that this clinical case illustrates some of the perils and risks of spinal manipulation, particularly in the elderly, and the need for careful patient selection.

The authors of this (stranely incomplete) case report discuss whether any manipulation was truly necessary or indicated as part of his initial chiropractic treatment plan. They state that, given that complications associated with similar practices are not often reported in the literature, this case highlights important considerations to be made in the elderly given the potential impact of transient/permanent neuropathic pain in that population subset.

Somehow, I doubt that we can be certain that the patient improved due to the physical therapy and not due to the drugs he received. Moreover, I question the authors’ repeated assertions that such adverse effects of chiropractic spinal manipulation are truly rare. Here is a section from our own 2002 systematic review of the subject:

A systematic review of five prospective investigations of the risks of spinal manipulation concluded that mild-to moderate transient adverse reactions occur in approximately half of patients who undergo spinal manipulation. The largest of these studies involved 1058 patients who received a total of 4712 treatments from 102 chiropractors in Norway. At least one adverse reaction was reported by 55% (n 580) of patients. About one quarter (n 1174) of treatments resulted in at least one adverse reaction. The most common reaction reported was local discomfort. Eighty-five percent (n 824) of reactions were described as “mild or moderate” and 1% (n 14) as “unbearable.” Seventy-four percent (n 1052) of reactions disappeared within 24 hours. No serious, permanent complications of spinal manipulation were reported, but follow-up was not described. These results were confirmed by a similar study in Sweden with 625 patients and a smaller one (68 patients) from the United Kingdom …

Non-life-threatening adverse effects after spinal manipulations are not rare – they are merely rarely reported!

Manual therapy is considered a safe and less painful method and has been increasingly used to alleviate chronic neck pain. However, there is controversy about the effectiveness of manipulation therapy on chronic neck pain. Therefore, this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) aimed to determine the effectiveness of manipulative therapy for chronic neck pain.

A search of the literature was conducted on seven databases (PubMed, Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, Medline, CNKI, WanFang, and SinoMed) from the establishment of the databases to May 2022. The review included RCTs on chronic neck pain managed with manipulative therapy compared with sham, exercise, and other physical therapies. The retrieved records were independently reviewed by two researchers. Further, the methodological quality was evaluated using the PEDro scale. All statistical analyses were performed using RevMan V.5.3 software. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations (GRADE) assessment was used to evaluate the quality of the study results.

Seventeen RCTs, including 1190 participants, were included in this meta-analysis. Manipulative therapy showed better results regarding pain intensity and neck disability than the control group. Manipulative therapy was shown to relieve pain intensity (SMD = -0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [-1.04 to -0.62]; p < 0.0001) and neck disability (MD = -3.65; 95% CI = [-5.67 to – 1.62]; p = 0.004). However, the studies had high heterogeneity, which could be explained by the type and control interventions. In addition, there were no significant differences in adverse events between the intervention and the control groups.

The authors concluded that manipulative therapy reduces the degree of chronic neck pain and neck disabilities.

Only a few days ago, we discussed another systematic review that drew quite a different conclusion: there was very low certainty evidence supporting cervical SMT as an intervention to reduce pain and improve disability in people with neck pain. Image result for systematic review, cartoon

How can this be?

Systematic reviews are supposed to generate reliable evidence!

How can we explain the contradiction?

There are several differences between the two papers:

  • One was published in a SCAM journal and the other one in a mainstream medical journal.
  • One was authored by Chinese researchers, the other one by an international team.
  • One included 17, the other one 23 RCTs.
  • One assessed ‘manual/manipulative therapies’, the other one spinal manipulation/mobilization.

The most profound difference is that the review by the Chinese authors is mostly on Chimese massage [tuina], while the other paper is on chiropractic or osteopathic spinal manipulation/mobilization. A look at the Chinese authors’ affiliation is revealing:

  • Department of Tuina and Spinal Diseases Research, The Third School of Clinical Medicine (School of Rehabilitation Medicine), Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China.
  • Department of Tuina and Spinal Diseases Research, The Third School of Clinical Medicine (School of Rehabilitation Medicine), Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China; Department of Tuina, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • Department of Tuina and Spinal Diseases Research, The Third School of Clinical Medicine (School of Rehabilitation Medicine), Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China; Department of Tuina, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, Hangzhou, China. Electronic address: [email protected].

What lesson can we learn from this confusion?

Perhaps that Tuina is effective for neck pain?

No!

What the abstract does not tell us is that the Tuina studies are of such poor quality that the conclusions drawn by the Chinese authors are not justified.

What we do learn – yet again – is that

  1. Chinese papers need to be taken with a large pintch of salt. In the present case, the searches underpinning the review and the evaluations of the included primary studies were clearly poorly conducted.
  2. Rubbish journals publish rubbish papers. How could the reviewers and the editors have missed the many flaws of this paper? The answer seems to be that they did not care. SCAM journals tend to publish any nonsense as long as the conclusion is positive.

 

This systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) estimated the benefits and harms of cervical spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) for treating neck pain. The authors searched the MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDro, Chiropractic Literature Index bibliographic databases, and grey literature sources, up to June 6, 2022.Image result for death by neck manipulation

RCTs evaluating SMT compared to guideline-recommended and non-recommended interventions, sham SMT, and no intervention for adults with neck pain were eligible. Pre-specified outcomes included pain, range of motion, disability, health-related quality of life.

A total of 28 RCTs could be included. There was very low to low certainty evidence that SMT was more effective than recommended interventions for improving pain at short-term (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.66; confidence interval [CI] 0.35 to 0.97) and long-term (SMD 0.73; CI 0.31 to 1.16), and for reducing disability at short-term (SMD 0.95; CI 0.48 to 1.42) and long-term (SMD 0.65; CI 0.23 to 1.06). Only transient side effects were found (e.g., muscle soreness).

The authors concluded that there was very low certainty evidence supporting cervical SMT as an intervention to reduce pain and improve disability in people with neck pain.

Harms cannot be adequately investigated on the basis of RCT data. Firstly, because much larger sample sizes would be required for this purpose. Secondly, RCTs of spinal manipulation very often omit reporting adverse effects (as discussed repeatedly on this bolg). If we extend our searches beyond RCTs, we find many cases of serious harm caused by neck manipulations (also as discussed repeatedly on this bolg). Therefore, the conclusion of this review should be corrected:

Low certainty evidence exists supporting cervical SMT as an intervention to reduce pain and improve disability in people with neck pain. The evidence of harm is, however, substantial. It follows that the risk/benefit ratio is not positive. Cervical SMT should therefore be discouraged.

This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the effectiveness of visceral osteopathy in improving pain intensity, disability and physical function in patients with low-back pain (LBP).

MEDLINE (Pubmed), PEDro, SCOPUS, Cochrane Library and Web of Science databases were searched from inception to February 2022. PICO search strategy was used to identify randomized clinical trials applying visceral techniques in patients with LBP. Eligible studies and data extraction were conducted independently by two reviewers. Quality of the studies was assessed with the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale, and the risk of bias with Cochrane Collaboration tool. Meta-analyses were conducted using random effects models according to heterogeneity assessed with I2 coefficient. Data on outcomes of interest were extracted by a researcher using RevMan 5.4 software.

Five studies were included in the systematic review involving 268 patients with LBP. The methodological quality of the included ranged from high to low and the risk of bias was high. Visceral osteopathy techniques have shown no improvements in pain intensity (Standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.53; 95% CI; -1.09, 0.03; I2: 78%), disability (SMD = -0.08; 95% CI; -0.44, 0.27; I2: 0%) and physical function (SMD = -0.26; 95% CI; -0.62, 0.10; I2: 0%) in patients with LBP.

The authors concluded that this systematic review and meta-analysis showed a lack of high-quality studies showing the effectiveness of visceral osteopathy in pain, disability, and physical function in patients with LBP.

Visceral osteopathy (or visceral manipulation) is an expansion of the general principles of osteopathy and involves the manual manipulation by a therapist of internal organs, blood vessels and nerves (the viscera) from outside the body.

Visceral osteopathy was developed by Jean-Piere Barral, a registered Osteopath and Physical Therapist who serves as Director (and faculty) of the Department of Osteopathic Manipulation in Paris, France. He stated that through his clinical work with thousands of patients, he created this modality based on organ-specific fascial mobilization. And through work in a dissection lab, he was able to experiment with visceral manipulation techniques and see the internal effects of the manipulations.[1]  According to its proponents, visceral manipulation is based on the specific placement of soft manual forces looking to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and their connective tissues. These gentle manipulations may potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body.[2] Visceral osteopathy comprises of several different manual techniques firstly for diagnosing a health problem and secondly for treating it.

Several studies have assessed the diagnostic reliability of the techniques involved. The totality of this evidence fails to show that they are sufficiently reliable to be od practical use.[3] Other studies have tested whether the therapeutic techniques used in visceral osteopathy are effective in curing disease or alleviating symptoms. The totality of this evidence fails to show that visceral osteopathy works for any condition.[4] 

The treatment itself seems to be safe, yet the risks of visceral osteopathy are nevertheless considerable: if a patient suffers from symptoms related to her inner organs, the therapist is likely to misdiagnose them and subsequently mistreat them. If the symptoms are due to a serious disease, this would amount to medical neglect and could, in extreme cases, cost the patient’s life.

My bottom line: if you see visceral osteopathy being employed anywhere, turn araound and seek proper healthcare whatever your illness might be.

References

[1]  https://www.barralinstitute.com/about/jean-pierre-barral.php .

[2]  http://www.barralinstitute.co.uk/ .

[3] Guillaud A, Darbois N, Monvoisin R, Pinsault N (2018) Reliability of diagnosis and clinical efficacy of visceral osteopathy: a systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med 18:65

[4]  http://www.barralinstitute.co.uk/ .

This short news report appeared on X [formerly Twitter]:Short-haired blonde woman on a stage speaking into a headset microphone, wearing an animal stripe jacket with a bare lightbulb and draped cloth behind her

The Ohio State Medical Board just approved the indefinite suspension Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s medical license, an osteopathic physician and longtime figure in the anti-vaccine movement. The board got around 350 complaints into her behavior, but that’s not why she’s being suspended.

As this could easily be unreliable, I looked for confirmations … and found several, for instance, this one:

An Ohio physician who sparked widespread ridicule in 2021 after spreading bizarre COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies to the House Health Committee by claiming the jabs magnetize their hosts and “interface” with cell towers had her medical license indefinitely suspended Wednesday. Anti-vaccine spreader Sherri Tenpenny sparked a firestorm in June, 2021 after making the comments, which saw 350 complaints sent to the State Medical Board. According to Cleveland.com, the board’s decision was not based on the comments, rather on procedural grounds, citing Tenpenny’s refusal to cooperate with investigators during the inquiry. “Dr. Tenpenny, neither you nor any doctor licensed by this board is above the law, and you must comply with the investigation,” said Dr. Jonathan Feibel, an orthopedic surgeon and medical board member, according to the outlet. “You have not done so, and therefore, until you do, your license will be suspended.” A lawyer for Tenpenny, Tom Renz, described the investigation as a form of “harassment” on her “free speech rights.” Tenpenny did not speak after the announcement, however Renz declared, “This appears very much like a lynch mob.”

Who is Sherry Tenpenny? Here is what Wiki tells us about her:

Sherri J. Tenpenny is an American anti-vaccination activist and conspiracy theorist who promulgates the disproven hypothesis that vaccines cause autism.[1] An osteopathic physician, she is the author of four books opposing vaccination. A 2015 lecture tour of Australia was canceled due to a public outcry over her views on vaccination, which oppose established scientific consensus. A 2021 Center for Countering Digital Hate analysis concluded that Tenpenny is among the top twelve people spreading COVID-19 misinformation and pseudoscientific anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. She has falsely asserted that the vaccines magnetize people and connect them with cellphone towers…

The story is puzzling, in my view. The biggest question for me is this:

Why only now?

She should have been suspended years ago!

Massage is frequently used for recovery and increased performance. This review, aimed to search and systemize current literature findings relating to massages’ effects on sports and exercise performance concerning its effects on motor abilities and neurophysiological and psychological mechanisms.

One hundred and fourteen articles were included. The data revealed that massages, in general, do not affect motor abilities, except flexibility. However, several studies demonstrated that positive muscle force and strength changed 48 h after the massage was given. Concerning neurophysiological parameters, massage did not change blood lactate clearance, muscle blood flow, muscle temperature, or activation. However, many studies indicated a reduction of pain and delayed onset muscle soreness, which are probably correlated with the reduction of the level of creatine kinase enzyme and psychological mechanisms. In addition, massage treatment led to a decrease in depression, stress, anxiety, and the perception of fatigue and an increase in mood, relaxation, and the perception of recovery.

The authors concluded that the direct usage of massages just for gaining results in sport and exercise performance seems questionable. However, it is indirectly connected to performance as an important tool when an athlete should stay focused and relaxed during competition or training and recover after them.

The evidence about the value of massage therapy is limited through the mostly poor quality of the primary studies. Unfortunately, the review authors did not bother to address this issue. Another recent and in my opinion more rigorous review identified 29 eligible studies recruiting 1012 participants, representing the largest examination of the effects of massage. Its authors found no evidence that massage improves measures of strength, jump, sprint, endurance, or fatigue, but massage was associated with small but statistically significant improvements in flexibility and DOMS. Massage therapy has the additional advantage that it is agreeable and nearly free of adverse effects. So, on balance, I think massage therapy might be worth considering for athletes.

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