World Congress on Physical Therapy releases ‘Teaching people about pain’ Symposium

Amsterdam is a wonderful place to go and last year about 5 thousand physiotherapists from all over the world did exactly that – the World Congress on Physiotherapy was a festival de fysio and I for one, had a ball. The official hosting body, the World Confederation of Physical Therapy, has just released many of the topical symposia presentations. We thought we would put ours up on BiM – it is called Teaching people about pain. The session was 1.5 hours long it is condensed here into 111 slides. The bulk of the work was done by David Butler, Mick Thacker and Adriaan Louw. Here is the official synopsis:

Pain is ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons to visit a physiotherapist.  There have been huge advances in our understanding of the biology that underpins pain, but clinical practice has on the whole failed to keep up. However, the scope of these new findings regarding pain has led to a reconceptualization of pain biology as well as dramatic advances in therapeutic approaches to pain management, although the delay to reach the clinic is substantial.

This revolution in pain-related knowledge is of fundamental relevance to the practice of physiotherapy around the world. Physiotherapists are ideally resourced and perfectly placed to take a lead role in bringing clinical practice into line with this new conceptualisation, but they must learn about it first.  In fact, a growing body of literature clearly shows that when physiotherapists learn about pain, and, crucially, when they teach their patients about pain, more effective treatments ensue.

We contend that new efforts are needed to revitalize pain education – most importantly with an eye to producing measurable improvements for both physiotherapist and patients. This symposium will focus on new models of learning in pain education.  Speakers will discuss: the application of conceptual change and health literacy models to patient-oriented pain education; integration of modern pain sciences with post-graduate medical and allied health training and the development and implementation of explaining pain for those embarking on lumbar surgery.

The presentation will run automatically moving from slide to slide. Click on the link below to start listening:

Focused Symposium. Teaching people about pain


  1. Rafael Torres says

    Hi Diane,
    my name is Rafael Torres and I’m the president of the Spanish Society on Pain & Physiotherapy. We are engaged in the pain neuroscience education model for patient with pain. We have just celebrated our 2nd International Conference on Pain & Physiotherapy with great speakers (Herta Flor, Paul Watson, Thomas Graven- Nilsen, etc). The delegates were more than 420 and we were followed by more than 35.000 people on twitter.
    Martin Hey is the chairman of the Physiotherapy Pain Association with a long history and a great success on the UK to change pain management programs
    We are thinking about the steps we should follow to create this Intenational Network on Pain & Phisiotherapy

    Diane Jacobs Reply:

    Thank you for connecting! I will contact you by email. I followed Sefid conference tweets to some extent – congratulations. 🙂

  2. Diane Jacobs says

    I would like the names of the two people who talked at the end of the Moseley/Butler/Louw/Thacker presentation (one Spanish and one British) about an international PT pain network, please.

  3. Doc ForthePeople says

    I agree with the tenet that new efforts need to be made in teaching people about pain. I am concerned that the emphasis still seems to be on measurable “improvement”. That is all well and good for curable episodes of acute pain, but seems to perpetuate one of the real issues confronting people with chronic intractable pain: namely that it remains a CHRONIC INCURABLE condition. Any measurements of “improvement” in a clinical sense will be short lived as the intensity of the pain recycles in an inexorable pattern of wax and wane. Constantly expecting “improvement” only serves to set the patient up for another failure when the pain returns. Indeed, physical therapy can serve as a vital segment in the long term and chronic management of this cruel disease, but the expectation of “improvement” as a gold standard is misguided.

    Tim Reply:

    What a sad, out-dated and misinformed opinion. I would suggest that you read some of the previous blogs and supporting research. I do hope that anybody in pain reading the response from Doc ForthePeople is not taken in by it.