Pain: A Primer on Pain for the Practicing Physical Therapist

Steven Z. George, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Course Description

Pain is a common complaint and one of the most frequent reasons people seek healthcare. The person training to be a clinician or the practicing clinician can grow frustrated with management of pain because traditional instruction falls short on providing an adequate understanding of pain. The overall goal of this primer is to supplement traditional instruction by providing content that allows the individual that completes this primer to gain a “transformed understanding” of pain consistent with Institute of Medicine guidelines. Primer content will emphasize examples in musculoskeletal pain from selected studies reported in the peer-review literature. Musculoskeletal pain was selected as the core of this primer because of its overall prevalence and high societal impact.

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  • Identify the frequency and impact of musculoskeletal pain complaints.
  • Discuss pathways of pain transmission from the periphery to the central nervous system.
  • Define the term “central sensitization” and differentiate it from “peripheral sensitization”.
  • Discuss potential sources of variability for pain perception.
  • Identify recommended methods to assess pain in clinical settings.
  • Describe factors that are predictive of poor outcomes for musculoskeletal pain conditions.
  • Discuss models for the development of chronic pain conditions that have been highlighted in the literature.
  • Describe different conceptual management options for the practicing clinician.