Newswise — A study published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, demonstrates that osteopathic manipulative treatment slows or halts the deterioration of back-specific function in the third trimester of pregnancy.

The Phase II randomized clinical trial of 144 subjects showed that women in the usual obstetric care and osteopathic manipulative treatment group reported less deterioration of back-specific function on the Roland-Morris Disability Scale than women in the usual obstetric care and sham ultrasound and the usual obstetric care only groups when these groups were compared using an intention-to-treat analysis. This study is the first randomized, placebo-controlled trial to explore the potential effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment during the third trimester of pregnancy.

In the study, conducted by The Osteopathic Research Center in conjunction with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas, women were enrolled between the 28th and 30th week of pregnancy. After being randomized to one of the three treatment groups, the women in the usual obstetric care and osteopathic manipulative treatment and usual obstetric care and sham ultrasound groups received treatments immediately following each of their third trimester prenatal visits. Women were excluded from or dropped from the study if they were determined to be at high risk by their obstetrician. The median age for women included in the study was 24 years.

Usual obstetric care was defined in this study as the conventional prenatal care received during pregnancy. Osteopathic manipulative treatment is generally considered a complementary treatment that is not included as part of routine prenatal care.

Osteopathic manipulative treatment is a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment that is used to reduce pain, restore range of motion and to restore normal function and balance in the body.

“This study is exciting because pregnant women frequently experience a negative impact on their ability to function and perform tasks related to daily living as their pregnancy progresses,” said John Licciardone, D.O., M.S., M.B.A., the principal investigator for the project, and the executive director of The Osteopathic Research Center. “Since pregnant women are limited in the medications they can take for pain, osteopathic manipulative treatment offers a way to improve back function and decrease pain in the third trimester of pregnancy, when a majority of women experience these symptoms.”

“What is also interesting about this study is that osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) who provide obstetrical care can potentially include osteopathic manipulative treatment as part of their prenatal care for patients,” Licciardone said. “For more than 100 years, osteopathic physicians who have treated pregnant women using osteopathic manipulation have claimed that their patients have less pain, better function and improved delivery outcomes. This study may be the first step in confirming the clinical success of osteopathic physicians in this area of medicine.”

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The Osteopathic Research Center The Osteopathic Research Center is the premier research center in the world focusing on the clinical efficacy and mechanisms of action of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Located at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, the ORC also conducts health services and policy research by performing systematic reviews of the literature, conducting population-based surveys, and analyzing national health care databases to determine the unique practice characteristics of osteopathic physicians and to provide scientific evidence to support osteopathic medicine. For more information, visit University of North Texas Health Science CenterThe University of North Texas Health Science Center comprises the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the School of Health Professions. Key research areas include aging and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and forensic and investigative genetics. This year, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was named a top 50 medical school in primary care by U.S. News & World Report for the eighth consecutive year. “Fort Worth’s medical school and more” contributes more than $400 million to the Tarrant County and Texas economies annually. For more information, go to

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