Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainORIGINAL ARTICLE

Preoperative Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy Improves Postoperative Pain and Reduces Opioid Consumption After Total Knee Arthroplasty: A Prospective Comparative Study

Pierre Barral, DO (France); Shahnaz Klouche, MD; Nathalie Barral, MD;; Yves-Pierre Lemoulec, MD; André Thés, MD; and Thomas Bauer, MD, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 16, 2019

Accepted: September 3, 2019

Published: July 1, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(7): 436-445

Context: Pain is a therapeutic challenge after total knee arthroplasty (TKA), and it could lead to the overuse of opioids. Few methodologically robust clinical studies have been performed to assess the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMTh; manipulative care performed by non–US-trained osteopaths) for postsurgical pain.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of standardized preoperative OMTh on early postoperative pain and opioid consumption after TKA.

Methods: This comparative, nonrandomized study took place from 2013 to 2015 and included patients who had primary unilateral TKA for osteoarthritis in a knee that had not undergone any previous surgery. Patients were divided into 2 consecutive groups: 1 group received traditional preoperative management, and the other group received associated preoperative OMTh (general OMTh [rhythmic mobilization of all the body joints, from the ankles to the skull, using long-lever manipulation] and myofascial relaxation). The primary evaluation criterion was knee pain at rest 1 month after surgery: 0 (no pain) to 100 (the worst imaginable pain). The secondary evaluation criteria were: (1) knee pain while walking 1 month after surgery, (2) average weekly knee pain during the first month after surgery, (3) the presence of night pain and the consumption of sleeping pills and opioids or morphine at least once per week, (4) the International Knee Society scores and the Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis index at postoperative 6 months and 1 year. The number of patients needed for a superiority trial was determined.

Results: No eligible patient refused OMTh when proposed. Seventy patients were evaluated (mean [SD] age, 75 [8] years; 47 women and 23 men). The 2 treatment groups contained 35 patients each. At postoperative month 1, the OMTh group had significantly less pain at rest (mean [SD], 6.8 [6] vs 20.9 [17.3]; P=.00001) and while walking (7.9 [9.4] vs 23.5 [20.6]; P=.0001) compared with the group that received traditional preoperative management. The consumption of opioids during the first postoperative week was significantly lower in the OMTh group (P=.0001). No statistically significant difference was found in the International Knee Society or Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis scores between the 2 groups at 6 months and 1 year of follow-up.

Conclusions: Standardized preoperative OMTh was found to be effective in reducing pain in the first month after TKA for osteoarthritis and significantly reduced opioid consumption during the first postoperative week.

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