Preliminary outcomes of a pilot physical therapy program for HIV-infected patients with chronic pain

Academic Article


  • Chronic pain in HIV-infected individuals is common and often undertreated. Physical therapy (PT) is an evidence-based nonpharmacologic treatment for chronic pain. Our objective is to present the results of a pilot PT program in an HIV pain/palliative care clinic, which is embedded within a Ryan White-funded multidisciplinary HIV primary care clinic. Medical records of HIV-infected patients participating in a PT program between November 2012 and July 2013 were retrospectively reviewed. Pain scores on a 0-10 scale and cost data were collected and analyzed. Among 43 patients referred, 27 collectively attended 86 sessions. Median age of enrolled patients was 54 (IQR 49-58). Sixteen (59%) were African-American and 20 (77%) had an undetectable HIV viral load. Mean pain score at initial visit was 6.5 (SD = 1.1). The average session-level decrease was 2.6 (SD = 1.7) and patient-level decrease was 2.5 (SD = 1.2). The largest payors were Medicare managed care (28%), Medicaid (21%), and Ryan White grant-related funds (18%). When the first four months of the program are excluded to account for slow start-up, the program's monthly net revenue during the remaining five months was $163. We present preliminary data from a low-cost pilot PT program integrated into an HIV clinic in a primary care setting associated with clinically significant improvements in pain. Further investigation into the implementation of such programs is essential.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mgbemena O; Westfall AO; Ritchie CS; Hicks J; Raper JL; Overton ET; Norton WE; Merlin JS
  • Start Page

  • 244
  • End Page

  • 247
  • Volume

  • 27
  • Issue

  • 2