[Physiotherapy and physical therapy in pain management]

Schmerz. 2015 Oct;29(5):562-8. doi: 10.1007/s00482-015-0043-z.
[Article in German]


Patients attend physiotherapy and physical therapy (PT) due to pain problems and/or functional impairments. Although the main focus for therapists has traditionally been physical examination and treatment of tissue structures and biomechanics, over the last few decades a growing body of research has highlighted the importance of central nervous system processing and psychosocial contributors to pain perception. Treatment with PT aims to reduce disability and suffering by reducing pain and increasing tolerance to movement. In Germany, pain management conducted by physiotherapists is currently undergoing major changes. Firstly, PT education is transitioning from a vocational to a degree level and additionally new concepts for improved multidisciplinary treatment approaches are being developed. However, there still remain substantial differences between therapists working in multidisciplinary pain clinics and those following medical referral in private practices. This article provides information on how national and international impulses have contributed to the development of different concepts of passive therapies and active/functional pain rehabilitation in Germany. In the future PT will need to provide more evidence about efficiency and modes of actions for different treatment options to selectively reason the application to patients with acute, subacute and chronic pain.

Keywords: Acute pain; Chronic pain; Combined modality therapy; Education, continuing, pain; Movement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Pain Clinics
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Therapy Modalities* / education