Reframing how we care for people with persistent non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain. Suggestions for the rehabilitation community

Jeremy S. Lewis, Emma K. Stokes, Boris Gojanovic, Pamela Gellatly, Chidozie Mbada, Saurab Sharma, Ina Diener, Peter O’Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


There have been repeated calls to re-evaluate how clinicians provide care for people presenting with persistent non-traumatic musculoskeletal conditions. One suggestion is to move away from the ‘we can fix and cure you’ model to adopting an approach that is more consistent with approaches used when managing other persistent non-communicable diseases; education, advice, a major focus on self-management including lifestyle behavioural change, physical activity and medications as required. Currently the global delivery of musculoskeletal care has many of the elements of a ‘super wicked problem’, namely conflict of interest from stake-holders due to the consequences of change, prevailing expectation of a structural diagnosis and concomitant fix for musculoskeletal pain, persistent funding of high risk, more expensive care when low risk more economic viable options that don’t impact on the quality of outcome exist, and an unquestionable need to find a solution now with the failure resulting in a growing social and economic burden for future generations. To address these issues, 100 participants included clinicians, educators and researchers from low-, middle- and high-income countries, eight presenters representing the physiotherapy, sport medicine and the orthopaedic professions and the insurance industry, together with three people who shared their lived experiences of persistent musculoskeletal pain, discussed the benefits and barriers of implementing change to address this problem. This paper presents the results from the stakeholders’ contextual analysis and forms the basis for the proposed next steps from an action and advocacy perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • MSK
  • Pain
  • Physiotherapy
  • Reframing musculoskeletal care


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