Physiotherapy: Worth Doing More Than One Session? | Biolayne
  1. Reps
  2. Issue 23
  3. Physiotherapy: Worth Doing More Than One Session?

Physiotherapy: Worth Doing More Than One Session?

One and Done? The Effectiveness of a Single Session of Physiotherapy Compared With Multiple Sessions to Reduce Pain and Improve Function and Quality of Life in Patients With a Musculoskeletal Disorder: A Systematic Review With Meta-analyses
Dube et al. (2023)


What did they test? The researchers examined whether a single session of physiotherapy could be as effective as multiple sessions in reducing pain, improving function, and enhancing quality of life for individuals with musculoskeletal disorders.
What did they find? The study found no significant differences in function and quality of life between single and multiple sessions, with a slight advantage for multiple sessions in pain improvement at 6 months, suggesting comparable outcomes between the two approaches.
What does it mean for you? For patients and healthcare providers, this suggests that a single, well-designed physiotherapy session focusing on education and self-management might be a viable and efficient alternative to multiple sessions for managing musculoskeletal disorders, potentially making treatment more accessible and cost-effective..

What’s the Problem?

In our (somewhat 🥲) increasingly active world, musculoskeletal disorders (arthritis, low back pain, tendinitis etc) affect an estimated 1.71 billion people globally. This number, which may even be understated due to insufficient data from developing regions, places musculoskeletal disorders at the top of conditions potentially leading to disability. The drawbacks of musculoskeletal disorders extend beyond physical pain and discomfort, giving rise to significant psychological impacts and imposing a heavy financial burden on healthcare systems and societal productivity (like obesity to a certain extent).


Despite their prevalence, the approach to managing musculoskeletal disorders has often been critiqued for its reliance on medication, imaging, and passive treatments, with many practices being questionable and truly evidence-based recommendations being rare. Many of the commonly used methods in treating and managing musculoskeletal disorders, have not only been deemed inefficient in curbing the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders but also in reducing associated healthcare costs. This inefficacy, coupled with increasing demand for musculoskeletal disorder management that outstrips the capacity of many healthcare systems, exacerbates inequalities in care, especially for individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who are disproportionately affected by musculoskeletal disorders.

It’s not uncommon to know a few people who have suffered from at least one musculoskeletal disorder and have had to spend a significant amount of money and time seeking treatment but without actually seeing improvements in their symptoms or at least receiving the education required to better manage their disorder. Continuous physiotherapy visits are often presented by some as an unavoidable path to better managing musculoskeletal disorders, a solution that is not necessarily feasible for everyone.

But what does the current scientific literature have to say about physiotherapy visits and musculoskeletal disorders? Is it worth going the extra mile and committing to multiple sessions or could a single well-conducted physiotherapy session cover most of your bases?

Enter: Dube et al (2023)

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About the author

About Dr. Pak
Dr. Pak

Pak is the Chief Editor of REPS, an online coach and a researcher. Pak did his PhD at Solent University in the UK on “the minimum effective training dose for strength”. As a Researcher, Pak is a Visiting Scholar in Dr. Schoenfeld's Applied Muscle Development Lab in New York City. Pak's research focuses on all...[Continue]

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