Evidence for osteopathy 

To judge whether a health treatment is safe and effective, we need evidence, which is gathered by conducting fair scientific tests.

What evidence is there?

Most research into techniques used in osteopathy tends to focus on general "manual therapy" techniques, such as spinal manipulation. Manual therapy techniques are used by physiotherapists and chiropractors, as well as osteopaths.

There's evidence that manual therapy performed by osteopaths is an effective treatment for persistent lower back pain. This is why guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on this condition state that this can be considered as a treatment option.

NICE also recommends manual therapy as a possible treatment option for osteoarthritis, but osteopathy isn't specifically mentioned.

There's only limited or no scientific evidence to support osteopathy as an effective treatment for:

Placebo effect

When we use a treatment and feel better, this can sometimes happen because of a phenomenon called the placebo effect, and not because of the treatment itself.

This means, although many people treated by osteopaths report good results, it's not always clear how effective the treatment actually is for certain conditions.

Page last reviewed: 10/06/2015

Next review due: 10/06/2017