A new drug-free approach for people with painful diabetic neuropathy: The NeuOst study

About the project

People with diabetes and associated nerve damage (diabetic peripheral neuropathy) lack good treatment options. Pain associated with this condition can be severely debilitating and lead to sleep problems and other limitations. Unfortunately, available drug treatments for neuropathic pain are not very effective or come with side effects. We are exploring a new drug-free approach built on manual therapy, exercises, and pain management strategies: Welcome to the NeuOst project!

Osteopaths mainly treat people with pain, often back pain or injuries. Apart from being experts in pain management, they also provide exercise programmes and lifestyle advice. We are exploring if osteopaths can successfully care for people with painful diabetic neuropathy.

In a first project stage, we have spoken to people with diabetes and neuropathy as well as osteopaths with experience in their treatment. We did so because the potential end-users are at the heart of our work; and we learned a lot about what might be useful for patients and what might be difficult. We have also teamed up with expert clinicians in diabetes management, exercise, and psychological pain management to design the new treatment programme. An international, high-profile collaboration with experts from King’s College London, Oxford University, Imperial College, and many more!

During the current stage, we are running a small clinical trial. To do so, we trained qualified osteopaths in the NeuOst intervention. In the clinical trial, we are testing if this can be an acceptable treatment for people with painful diabetic neuropathy and if we could run a larger study later on. 


Getting involved

Our clinical study at the University College of Osteopathy (London) will start in Spring 2024. Right now, you can sign up to our newsletter to find out when we start recruiting people for the study.

We will be looking for patients. As participants during the clinical trial, you can experience NeuOst first-hand.

Travel expenses and participation time are paid for.


Do you live with diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2) and nerve pains in your feet or hands (painful neuropathy)?

Then sign up to our newsletter! We will get back to you as soon as we have further information and are able to recruit people for treatment.

We have trained treatment providers. Twenty osteopaths have taken the NeuOst CPD course to advance their practice and to work as treatment providers during the trial.

In January 2024, the first NeuOst training course took place at University College of Osteopathy. Starting with a first run-through for staff and potential trial providers, we hope to make the course more widely available soon as part of UCO’s CPD portfolio. The NeuOst training course includes:

•             Over 6 hours of lectures by research experts in the fields of diabetes, neuropathy, neuropathic pain, exercise, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

•             A full day of practical training, including in neurological testing, communication skills, exercise prescription, psychologically informed pain management, and in the integration of these approaches with manual therapy.

The course is delivered as 50% asynchronous e-learning, and a 1-day in-person training.


Get in touch to take part in the trial or sign up to the NeuOst Newsletter.

If you are interested or would like to find out more, please email David.Schmidt@uco.ac.uk who is running this study.


Governance and Ethics

This research is led by David Hohenschurz-Schmidt, osteopath and pain researcher at University College of Osteopathy and at Imperial College London. The project sponsor is the University College of Osteopathy, represented by Steven Vogel, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research).

The project is kindly supported by funding from The Osteopathic Foundation, the Alan and Sheila Diamond Charitable Trust, and the Society for Back Pain Research.

The NeuOst trial is overseen by an independent trial steering and data and ethics monitoring committee, including independent experts and a patient partner. All processes and materials undergo formal review by the University College of Osteopathy Research Ethics Committee.