Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Inpatients With Pulmonary Exacerbations of Cystic Fibrosis: Effects on Spirometry Findings and Patient Assessments of Breathing, Anxiety, and Pain

David A. Swender, DO; Gina Thompson, DO; Kristen Schneider, DO; Karen McCoy, MD; and Alpa Patel, MD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: July 1, 2013

Accepted: November 6, 2013

Published: June 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(6): 450-458

Context: Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) has been studied in patients with various respiratory diseases. However, to the authors’ knowledge, no studies have assessed the efficacy of OMT in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).

Objectives: To evaluate pulmonary function and perceptions of breathing, anxiety, and pain of CF patients who receive OMT in addition to standard inpatient management of pulmonary exacerbation.

Methods: In a single-blind randomized controlled trial, we assessed adult patients with a history of CF who were admitted to the hospital because of pulmonary exacerbation. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a daily standardized protocol of OMT or sham therapy. Both groups also received standard treatment for CF. Spirometry and questionnaire data (self-assessment of breathing, pain, and anxiety level) were collected before the first OMT or sham therapy session and after the final session.

Results: A total of 33 patients were included in the study: 16 in the OMT group and 17 in the sham therapy group. Improvements in spirometric parameters were observed in both the OMT and the sham therapy groups, with no statistically significant differences found between the groups. More patients in the OMT group than in the sham therapy group had questionnaire response patterns that indicated their breathing had improved during the study period (15 of 16 vs 8 of 16, respectively). No differences were found between groups for perceived improvement of pain and anxiety.

Conclusions: In the current study, CF patients who received OMT did not demonstrate statistically significant differences in pre- and posttreatment spirometry findings compared with CF patients who received sham therapy. Questionnaire findings suggest that OMT may affect CF patients’ perception of overall quality of breathing. Additional studies are needed to assess the clinical use of OMT in patients with CF.

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