An exploration of the experience of osteopaths managing individuals with endometriosis

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Zeigler, Zena Lauren
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Osteopathy
Unitec, Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
Anderson, Helen
MacFarlane, John
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
patients with endometriosis
patient treatment
osteopathic medicine
Zeigler, Z.L. (2023). An exploration of the experience of osteopaths managing individuals with endometriosis (An unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Osteopathy) Unitec, Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology
AIM This study aimed to investigate the theories, approaches, experiences, qualifications, and future recommendations of osteopaths regarding the management of individuals with physical symptoms associated with endometriosis. This study will contribute to the literature on the osteopathic management and treatment for women living with endometriosis. DESIGN Qualitative, descriptive, exploratory study. METHODS A sample of six registered osteopaths from New Zealand and Australia participated in semi-structured interviews over Zoom between April 2022 to July 2022. The recordings of interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded. Thematic analysis was conducted which identified three main themes and several subthemes. FINDINGS Thematic analysis of osteopath’s interviews identified three main themes: osteopathic management and treatment, osteopath's experiences, and perspectives and thirdly, recommendations and qualifications of participants. The study captured several subthemes linked to each theme. CONCLUSION This study provides in depth, unique, valuable insights on the experiences, clinical practices, perspectives of participants on their osteopathic management and treatment for women with endometriosis-related physical symptoms (low back pain, abdomen pain, and pelvic girdle pain). Endometriosis is a complex disease, and each individual may need unique treatment and management, including how an osteopath may manage an individual with endometriosis. In this study, participants preferred indirect techniques such as myofascial release (MFR), balanced ligament tension (BLT), over direct techniques such as inhibition techniques on muscles that surround the pelvis. Other techniques included visceral manipulation, iliopsoas and diaphragm release, articulation, muscle energy techniques (MET) and oscillation to the lumber spine and hips. Many osteopathic techniques, aims, and recommendations were aimed to decrease the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), reduce inflammation, improve lymphatic drainage, and improve immunity in individuals. Management also included advice on exercise and home recommendations, nutrition, pacing, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), supplementation or diet advice, stretching, yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, pacing, mindfulness, pain education and appropriate referrals. Participants in this study highlighted the experiences and perspectives, regarding osteopathic treatment for women with endometriosis. The study contributes to the endometriosis management literature and provides perspectives and experiences and directions for future research.
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