The osteopathic treatment of infantile and juvenile growing pains. A randomized controlled trial


The main objective of this study is to evaluate whether an osteopathic treatment can improve pain frequency and waking at night in children and adolescents suffering from growing pains.

Randomized controlled trial.

Time period: March 2006 to March 2008

Materials and methods:
34 children and adolescents suffering from growing pains participated in the study (average 9 years of age). The growing pains had to be present for at least once a month. 15 children were randomly allocated to the intervention group and 19 to the control group. The intervention group received four osteopathic treatments over a time period of three month. The patients of the control group did not receive any treatment during that time, and were offered four osteopathic treatments at the same intervals thereafter. The osteopathic dysfunctions were diagnosed on the day of treatment and treated individually. The primary parameter was pain frequency, waking at night and crying due pain attacks monitored by a pain journal. Secondary outcomes were pain intensity measured with a visual analogue scale (VAS), administration of medication and osteopathic dysfunctions. Intervention:

The inter-group difference of changes showed a significant decrease of pain frequency as from the second month of treatment (2nd month: difference 4.3, 95% CI: 0.9 to 7.7; 3rd month: difference 3.5, 95% CI: 1.1 to 5.8). The differences in terms of the parameter “waking up at night” were significant in favour of the treatment group. The significance of the parameter “crying due to pain attacks” could not be determined. In the intervention group, pain frequency dropped from 2.6 to 0.4 (-2.2, 95% CI: -4.0 to -0.4), which corresponds to an improvement of 85%. In the control group no significant changes were observed during this time (-0.5, 95% CI: -1.7 to 0.7). Pain intensity (VAS) decreased in all cases during the whole study time of six month in which the children of both groups were treated (average improvement of 90%). During the trial three patients of the control group and one of the intervention group dropped out.

Four osteopathic treatments over a period of three month led to a clinically relevant improvement of pain frequency and waking up due to pain attacks in children and adolescents suffering from growing pains.