Manual physical therapy for chronic pain: the complex whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Chronic pain is highly prevalent in the United States, affecting nearly one-third of the American population. The economic impact of chronic pain is substantial with no clear indication that trends will change. In an effort to combat the chronic pain epidemic, pharmacological approaches and specifically opioid prescription have increased exponentially. Unfortunately, these approaches have been ineffective and include considerable risks including addiction and death. Subsequently, non-pharmacological approaches are recommended as a first-line treatment option for individuals experiencing chronic pain. As manual physical therapists, we are well positioned to meet the chronic pain challenge, offering a variety of non-pharmacological treatment options to our patients. Furthermore, our professional organizations are strongly advocating for patients and providers to choose our services over less safe options. For manual physical therapists to play a key role in the management of individuals with chronic pain conditions, simply being a safer option is not good enough. Instead, we must practice in an effective manner as well.

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