Managing musculoskeletal complaints with rehabilitation therapy: summary of the Philadelphia Panel evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on musculoskeletal rehabilitation interventions

J Fam Pract. 2002 Dec;51(12):1042-6.


Objective: The Philadelphia Panel recently formulated evidence-based guidelines for selected rehabilitation interventions in the management of low back, knee, neck, and shoulder pain.

Study design: The guidelines were developed with the use of a 5-step process: define the intervention, collect evidence, synthesize results, make recommendations based on the research, and grade the strength of the recommendations.

Population: Outpatient adults with low back, knee, neck, or shoulder pain without vertebral disk involvement, scoliosis, cancer, or pulmonary, neurologic, cardiac, dermatologic, or psychiatric conditions were included in the review.

Outcomes measured: To prepare the data, systematic reviews were performed for low back, knee, neck, and shoulder pain. Therapeutic exercise, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, thermotherapy, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and combinations of these therapies were included in the literature search. Studies were identified and analyzed based on study type, clinical significance, and statistical significance.

Conclusions: The Philadelphia Panel guidelines recommend continued normal activity for acute, uncomplicated low back pain and therapeutic exercise for chronic, subacute, and postsurgical low back pain; transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and exercise for knee osteoarthritis; proprioceptive and therapeutic exercise for chronic neck pain; and the use of therapeutic ultrasound in the treatment of calcific tendonitis of the shoulder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / rehabilitation
  • Chronic Disease / rehabilitation
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / rehabilitation
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation
  • Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy