Individual Expectation: An Overlooked Factor

By |April 26, 2017|Hypoalgesia, Musculoskeletal Pain, Patient Expectations|

Individual Expectation: An Overlooked, But Pertinent, Factor in the Treatment of Individuals Experiencing Musculoskeletal Pain

The Chiro.Org Blog

SOURCE:   Phys Ther. 2010 (Sep); 90 (9): 1345–1355

Joel E. Bialosky Mark D. Bishop Joshua A. Cleland

Department of Physical Therapy,
University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32610-0154, USA

Physical therapists consider many factors in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal pain. The current literature suggests expectation is an influential component of clinical outcomes related to musculoskeletal pain for which physical therapists frequently do not account. The purpose of this clinical perspective is to highlight the potential role of expectation in the clinical outcomes associated with the rehabilitation of individuals experiencing musculoskeletal pain. The discussion focuses on the definition and measurement of expectation, the relationship between expectation and outcomes related to musculoskeletal pain conditions, the mechanisms through which expectation may alter musculoskeletal pain conditions, and suggested ways in which clinicians may integrate the current literature regarding expectation into clinical practice.


From the Full-Text Article:


Physical therapy interventions for musculoskeletal pain conditions often address impairments with the implication that pain and function will improve in response to stretching a tight muscle or strengthening a weak muscle. Realistically, the mechanisms through which physical therapy interventions alter musculoskeletal pain are likely multifaceted and dependent upon a variety of factors related to the therapist, the patient, and the environment. [1] The current literature indicates factors other than the correction of physical impairments influence clinical outcomes in the conservative management of patients experiencing musculoskeletal pain. For example, psychological factors such as fear are useful in directing treatment. [2, 3] Similarly, factors related to patient expectations are associated with both clinical outcomes, [4, 5] satisfaction with treatment, [6, 7] and influence of behavior. [8, 9]

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