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Regional vs global physical therapy interventions to treat chronic pain in survivors of trauma: a randomized controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: A history of traumatic life events is associated with chronic pain in later life. Physical therapists utilize a variety of methods to treat pain, however, they have struggled to find effective interventions to improve patient outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To compare impairment-based, regional (REGION-PT) physical therapy (PT) to a global (GLOBAL-PT) model consisting of pain neuroscience education, graded motor imagery, and exercise for adults with chronic pain and history of trauma.

DESIGN: Randomized Controlled Trial.

METHODS: Adults ≥ 18 years of age with chronic pain and a history of ≥1 trauma identified through the Life Events Checklist received the allocated intervention once a week for six weeks. Treatment effects were assessed using linear mixed models.

RESULTS: Ninety-eight participants completed the trial. There were no difference in outcomes between groups. There were significant interactions between race and intervention. Both interventions were associated with improvements in pain interference for white participants, but non-white participants experienced improvement only with GLOBAL-PT. Regardless of allocation, participants improved in physical function, six of the PROMIS-29 domains, and in pain interference measures.

CONCLUSION: Both interventions are reasonable strategies for individuals with chronic pain and a history of trauma.

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