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Physical therapy as non-pharmacological chronic pain management of adults living with HIV: self-reported pain scores and analgesic use

Authors Pullen S

Received 16 May 2017

Accepted for publication 24 July 2017

Published 18 September 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 177—182


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Bassel Sawaya

Sara Pullen

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA

Background: HIV-related chronic pain has emerged as a major symptom burden among people living with HIV (PLHIV). Physical therapy (PT) has been shown to be effective as a non-pharmacological method of chronic pain management in the general population; however, there is a gap in research examining the role of PT for chronic pain among PLHIV.
Materials and methods: This study examined the effect of PT on self-reported pain scores and pain medication usage in PLHIV enrolled in a multidisciplinary HIV clinic. Data were collected via reviews of patient medical records within a certain timeframe. Data were gathered from patient charts for two points: initial PT encounter (Time 1) and PT discharge or visit ≤4 months after initial visit (Time 2).
Results: Subjects who received PT during this timeframe reported decreased pain (65.2%), elimination of pain (28.3%), no change in pain (15.2%), and increased pain (6.5%). Three-quarters of the subjects reported a minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in pain score, and more than half reported a decrease in pain score over the MCID. Subjects showed a trend of decreasing pain medication prescription and usage during the study period.
Conclusion: Results of the current study indicate that in this sample, PT intervention appears to be an effective, cost-effective, non-pharmacological method to decrease chronic pain in PLHIV.

Keywords: HIV, pain, physical therapy, opioids

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