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Osteopathic Treatment of the Flu

During the flu epidemic of 1918, the osteopathic profession showed the value of osteopathic manipulative treatment.

In 1918, C.P. McConnell, DO, reported that the most effective treatment during the influenza pandemic was begun early in the onset of symptoms (within the first 24 hours) and consisted of carefully applied muscular relaxation and, most importantly, relaxation of the deep and extensive contractions of the deep spinal musculature and mobilization of the spine. These treatments would be repeated two or three times early in the course of the infection, along with traditional supportive measures such as hydration. During later influenza epidemics, such as the 1928-1929 and the 1936-1937 outbreaks, various lymphatic pump treatments and more attention to the cervical and upper thoracic regions were added to this recommended treatment protocol. These treatments, individualized to each patient’s needs, were apparently the most commonly applied osteopathic medical procedures during the epidemics.
Michael M. Patterson, PhD,
The Coming Influenza Pandemic: Lessons From the Past for the Future. JAOA, Nov. 2005

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