Differential Diagnosis in PT, Part 03: Pain Types and Viscerogenic Pain Patterns


A large part of the physical therapy screening process is identifying red flag histories and red flag signs and symptoms. Understanding how and when diseased organs can refer pain to the musculoskeletal system helps the therapist identify suspicious pain patterns. 

This course will describe pain types in general and viscerogenic pain patterns specifically. A large component in evaluating pain during the screening process is being able to recognize the client demonstrating a significant emotional overlay.

The instructional focus of this course is on developing advanced clinical reasoning skills related to determine a client’s appropriateness for physical therapy. The course builds on concepts of evidence-based clinical practice as they are used to identify conditions that might mimic neuromuscular or musculoskeletal dysfunction. In particular, understanding the way in which visceral pain is referred to the musculoskeletal system is the focus of this Part 3 of the series Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy. 

Upon completion of this course, the Learner will be able to:  

  • Recognize pain of a cutaneous, somatic, visceral and referred origin
  • Name and describe the three mechanisms by which viscera refer pain to the soma
  • Recognize characteristics of systemic pain compared to musculoskeletal pain
  • Evaluate joint pain for a systemic origin
  • Screen for emotional overlay as a factor in the client’s pain response
  • Describe the role of anxiety, depression, and panic disorder in the pain response

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