NMM/OMTCase Report

Role of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment in the Management of Stiff Person Syndrome

Roxanne M. Rajaii, MS, OMS IV; Gregory J. Cox, DO; and Robert P. Schneider, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: December 3, 2014

Published: June 1, 2015

J Osteopath Med; 115(6): 394-398

Stiff person syndrome (SPS) is a rare and disabling central nervous system disorder first described in 1956 and characterized by fluctuating rigidity and stiffness, gait impairment, and painful spasms of the axial and limb musculature. Although an underlying mechanism of impaired synaptic γ-aminobutyric acid–ergic inhibition has been proposed, the exact mechanism remains unclear. The glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody, a marker for SPS, is a strong indication of disease and has been reported in approximately 70% of patients. The current treatment of choice is benzodiazepines and baclofen, both of which reduce motor unit potential firing and, therefore, decrease stiffness and spasms. However, patients continue to have substantial disability with pharmacologic therapy alone. This case report demonstrates the potential of osteopathic manipulative treatment as an adjunct to medication in the management of SPS. By decreasing somatic dysfunction and reducing the frequency of exacerbations, osteopathic manipulative treatment may alleviate the symptoms and overall morbidity associated with this disease.

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