• Physiotherapy for pain. The increased use and belief in the efficiency of physiotherapy as a pain treatment with no or limited safety concerns has led to physiotherapies being included in several international recommendations on management of major painful diseases such as low back pain and osteoarthritis.

    The ‘World Confederation of Physical Therapists’ (WCPT) describes physiotherapy as “… services provided in circumstances where movement and function are threatened by ageing, injury and pain”,which can result in the broad definition: ‘physiotherapy is what physical therapists do’. By consequence, a large range of physiotherapy treatment options exists, but scientific and practical information that can guide treatment choices for individual patients is often elusive causing variations in clinical practice.

    The objective of this study was to assess the reported effects of physiotherapy on populations of patients with pain. The results related to the beneficial effect of therapeutic exercise for painful musculoskeletal conditions are supported by similar meta-analyses concerning knee osteoarthritis that have found effect sizes of therapeutic exercise and passive treatment modalities. Our findings and our data support therapeutic exercise as particularly relevant in treatment for pain secondary to musculoskeletal conditions

    Physiotherapy reduces pain in adults, but standardisation of interventions and focus on trial research with low risks of bias and reproducible treatment modalities are needed.