Physiotherapists’ perceptions of problematic musculoskeletal soft tissue disorders
Aims: Many common musculoskeletal disorders are resistant to existing management strategies,causing long-term pain and disability. While arthritic and spinal problems have been prioritized for research, several soft tissue disorders may be equally burdensome for individuals and difficult to treat successfully. dentifying those that are least responsive to reatment may help focus the limited resources available for research and treatment provision. This study aimed to rank the most problematic disorders, and identify contributory factors, to inform the debate on research and service priorities in the management of musculoskeletal disorders. Methods: The views of practising physiotherapists on the most problematic soft tissue disorders were sought using a postal questionnaire survey and telephone interviews. The questionnaire was sent to 193 experienced musculoskeletal physiotherapists working in National Health Service and private clinics in south-east England. Findings: The response rate was 48%. The top three problematic disorders were identifi ed as frozen shoulder, plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow. Subsequent interviews with 20 respondents indicated that inadequate differential diagnosis, triaging and differences in therapeutic practice may account for some of the observed variation in outcomes. Conclusions: A greater focus on these particular disorders and issues by both clinicians and the research community is warranted.