After a thorough examination and diagnosis, treatment may include osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), medications, various types of injections and/or back surgery.
The number of OMT treatments required varies with each patient and condition. While there exist no "hard and fast" rules as to the duration and exact number of treatments required, objective improvement in pain and/or functional abilities should become apparent in as few as five to six consecutive treatments, unless there are prominent complicating factors. (Source: American Osteopathic Association Protocols for OMT, 1998 Division of Socioeconomic Affairs.)
- Initially, treatment may be twice a week for two to four weeks (in rare cases, treatment may be three times a week).
- Follow-up treatments typically are no more frequent than once or twice a week for a certain period of time (not open-ended).
The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine will reexamine the patient during each of the visits to see if there is appropriate progress and to set realistic time-based goals for treatment. Objective parameters are used to determine if there is adequate progress:
- Improvement in the patient's function (ability to work, activities of daily living, ability to move about and perform certain activities, etc.)
- The reduction in need for pain medication.
- The patient's report of his or her pain perception
The goal of osteopathic treatment is to enhance the patient's ability to function independently with minimal or no pain, while maintaining this independence through appropriate home exercises, nutrition, and lifestyle. Accordingly, in a chronic pain situation and as long as function is maintained, treatment is generally reduced to a minimum yet reasonable number of visits, but may require a limited set of additional treatments during an episode of exacerbation.