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Highly Accessed Review

Taking responsibility for the early assessment and treatment of patients with musculoskeletal pain: a review and critical analysis

Nadine E Foster1*, Jan Hartvigsen23 and Peter R Croft1

Author affiliations

1 Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK

2 Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark

3 Nordic Institute of Chiropractic and Clinical Biomechanics, Forskerparken 10A, 5230 Odense M, Denmark

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Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:205  doi:10.1186/ar3743

Published: 29 February 2012

Abstract

Musculoskeletal pain is common across all populations and costly in terms of impact on the individual and, more generally, on society. In most health-care systems, the first person to see the patient with a musculoskeletal problem such as back pain is the general practitioner, and access to other professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, or osteopaths is still either largely controlled by a traditional medical model of referral or left to self-referral by the patient. In this paper, we examine the arguments for the general practitioner-led model and consider the arguments, and underpinning evidence, for reconsidering who should take responsibility for the early assessment and treatment of patients with musculoskeletal problems.