BACKGROUND: There is no consensus on best content, set-up, category of involved healthcare professionals or duration of rehabilitation-programs for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, and outcomes show varying results. Individual care regimes for sub-groups of patients have been proposed.

AIM: To describe the type of interventions used in a physiotherapist-led, rehabilitation-program for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain, refractory to preceding treatments. A second aim was to report clinical outcomes at 1-year follow-up after the intervention period.

METHODS: All patients referred to physiotherapist within a specialist pain-unit due to being refractory to preceding treatments, and deemed fit to undergo physiotherapy-based, individualized rehabilitation during 2014-2018 were consecutively included and followed-up 1 year after ending the program. The inclusion was based on structured 'clinical reasoning' using the referral, examination and on patient-relevant outcome measures. The individual interventions, recorded according to a manual used when reading the patients' medical records, were described. Primary outcomes were clinical results of perceived pain, disability and overall health at start, discharge and 1 year after discharge.

RESULTS: In total, 274 patients (mean age 42 years, 71% women) were included, suffering from chronic, severe, musculoskeletal pain (VAS median 7/10, duration median 2.8 years) and moderate disability. The most frequent interventions were education, sensorimotor training, physical activity-advice and interventions for structures/functions (for example manual techniques, stretching) for a median of nine sessions during five months. Despite refractory to preceding treatments, 45% of the patients rated clinically important improvements on pain, 61% on disability and 50% on overall health at discharge and the figures were similar at 1-year follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: A physiotherapist-led, one-to-one, rehabilitation-program of median nine sessions during five months, combining individualized education, sensorimotor training, physical activity-advice and interventions for structures/functions rendered clinically relevant improvements on pain, disability and overall health in half of the patients at 1-year follow-up. Since the cohort consisted of patients refractory to preceding treatments, we believe that these results warrant further studies to identify the subgroups of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain that will improve from new, distinctive, resource-effective rehabilitation-programs involving individualized rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910
Number of pages14
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 28

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physiotherapy
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Pain/diagnosis
  • Physical Therapists
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Treatment Outcome


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