Best practice care for musculoskeletal pain: 11 recommendations


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Following a review of clinical practice guidelines, researchers have identified 11 consistent recommendations for musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, which they say could help guide clinicians to manage MSK pain. 

The recommendations, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, are: 

  1. Care should be patient centred
  2. Screen patients to identify those with a high likelihood of serious pathology/red flag conditions
  3. Assess psychosocial factors 
  4. Radiological imaging is discouraged unless: serious pathology is suspected, there has been an unsatisfactory response to conservative care or unexplained progression of signs and symptoms or imaging is likely to change management
  5. Assessment should include physical examination such as neurological screening tests, mobility and/or muscle strength
  6. Evaluate patient progress 
  7. Provide patients with education/information about their condition and management options
  8. Patients should receive management that addresses physical activity and/or exercise
  9. If used, manual therapy should be applied only in conjunction with other treatments
  10. Unless specifically contraindicated, offer evidence-informed non-surgical care prior to surgery
  11. Facilitate continuation or resumption of work

The authors say the recommendations may provide clinicians with a simple and clear consensus of current MSK pain priorities, which could also help address the variable quality of clinical care delivered for MSK pain conditions.