Osteopathic Journal ClubBRIEF REPORT

Adjuvant Lymphatic Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment in Patients With Lower-Extremity Ulcers: Effects on Wound Healing and Edema

Teresa Kilgore, DO; Marilyn Malia, DO; Brian Di Giacinto, DO; Stephanie Minter, DO; and John Samies, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: May 1, 2018

Accepted: June 18, 2018

Published: December 1, 2018

J Osteopath Med; 118(12): 798-805

Context: In 2012, the US wound registry estimated that the cost of managing chronic wounds in the United States exceeded $50 billion. A large percentage of these wounds are venous stasis ulcers of the lower extremity. Evidence suggests that adjuvant osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) may provide a benefit by reducing edema and subsequent healing times in venous stasis ulcers of the lower extremity.

Objectives: To determine whether a lymphatic OMT protocol improves wound healing rates among patients with lower-extremity edema.

Methods: This pilot study was a nonrandomized before-after community trial of lymphatic OMT in patients with lower-extremity wounds and edema. Wound surface area measurements for the preliminary phase were obtained retrospectively. During the intervention period, patients received 10 minutes of OMT twice per week. The OMT protocol, which aimed to improve lymphatic flow, included myofascial thoracic outlet release, doming of the diaphragm, pelvic diaphragm release, popliteal release, and pedal pump (2-3 minutes of continuous pump) performed in sequence. Rates of wound healing were compared between the preliminary (standard therapy), intervention (standard therapy plus OMT), and follow-up (standard therapy) phases. Rates of change in edema (measured using leg volume) were evaluated during the intervention phase. A custom-designed questionnaire was used to assess patients’ satisfaction with their treatment and confidence that its effects on their health were good.

Results: Eight patients were included in the study. The wound surface area increased during the preliminary phase by a mean of 10 cm2/wk and decreased during the intervention phase by a mean of 4.9 cm2/wk. Patients’ mean leg volume decreased during the intervention phase. Six patients were “very satisfied” with their treatment.

Conclusions: The adjunctive OMT protocol may have reduced edema and reversed the trend of wound growth in patients with venous stasis ulcers. Edema reduction is a mainstay of current wound therapy, and any modality that decreases edema may subsequently decrease healing times.

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