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Indian J Palliat Care. 2011 Jan;17(1):80-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-1075.78458.

Mechanism-based Classification of Pain for Physical Therapy Management in Palliative care: A Clinical Commentary.

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  • 1Department of Physiotherapy, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Mangalore, India.


Pain relief is a major goal for palliative care in India so much that most palliative care interventions necessarily begin first with pain relief. Physical therapists play an important role in palliative care and they are regarded as highly proficient members of a multidisciplinary healthcare team towards management of chronic pain. Pain necessarily involves three different levels of classification-based upon pain symptoms, pain mechanisms and pain syndromes. Mechanism-based treatments are most likely to succeed compared to symptomatic treatments or diagnosis-based treatments. The objective of this clinical commentary is to update the physical therapists working in palliative care, on the mechanism-based classification of pain and its interpretation, with available therapeutic evidence for providing optimal patient care using physical therapy. The paper describes the evolution of mechanism-based classification of pain, the five mechanisms (central sensitization, peripheral neuropathic, nociceptive, sympathetically maintained pain and cognitive-affective) are explained with recent evidence for physical therapy treatments for each of the mechanisms.


Mechanism-based classification; Pain rehabilitation; Pain sciences; Palliative physical therapy care

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