Have osteopathic treatments a positive affect on the extent of the pathology of a congenital, muscular torticollis on infants? A randomized controlled trial



Study on the assumption, if osteopathic treatments in comparison to the standard treatment (“controlled manual stretching”) have a positive affect on the extent of the pathology of a congenital, muscular torticollis with infants?

Randomised controlled clinical trial.

Recruitment of the patients took place by contacts to clinical doctors and paediatricians of the Mülheim and Bochum area, the location of the two osteopaths involved in the study.

50 new borns or babies at the age of 2 up to 45 weeks with medically diagnosted congenital torticollis. By external randomizing the infants were splitted into two groups: 26 babies were given into the “intervention group” and 24 babies were given into the “controlled group”. 2 babies dropped out in the course of the study.

Within the intervention group three osteopathic treatments have taken place at intervals of one week. The diagnosed osteopathic dysfunctions have been treated according to the principles of the osteopathy. Over the same period the controlled group received three treatments by two physical therapists applying the “controlled manual stretching”, one treatment per week, too.

Main outcome measure:
Improvement of the extent of the torticollis. Following parameters were analysed: Limitation of the rotation and lateral inclination (measured by a Goniometer), swelling of the M. sternocleidomastoideus (by palpation), plagiocephaly / facial dissymmetry (by diagnostic findings) and frequency of the line of vision to just one side (by questioning the parents). The evaluation was carried out by a self-developed evaluation score.

In the intervention group as well as in the controlled group significant improvements of the extent of the torticollis (p=0.000) have been determined. In the osteopathic group an improvement of 66% was achieved. In contrast, in the controlled group a percentage of 42 % was achieved, only. When comparing the two groups the statistic difference in significance in favour of the osteopathic group was almost reached to its full extent (p=0.097). The evaluation of the secondary parameter (questionnaire to the parents) has also shown major improvements and better results in the osteopathic group.

The extent of the torticollis has revealed better results in the osteopathic group than in the control group. This proves the clinical relevance of the results of the study and confirms the assumption, that the osteopathic treatment represents an alternative to the standard therapy. Further studies need to be executed, including follow-up on lasting/effectiveness of the results.