Development of a pain neuroscience education program for post-traumatic stress disorder and pain

Timothy M. Benedict, Arthur J. Nitz, John P. Abt, Adriaan Louw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Individuals with co-morbid post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain have higher disability, pain, and pain catastrophizing beliefs than patients without PTSD. Pain neuroscience education (PNE) may be an effective tool to help those with PTSD and pain reduce maladaptive beliefs about pain. The purpose of this paper is to report the development and evaluation of a PNE curriculum for participants with PTSD and pain. Methods: After writing an initial draft of PNE for PTSD and pain, a panel of medical experts in PNE, PTSD, and rehabilitation reviewed the booklet. After addressing recommendations from the medical panel (n = 29), individuals with (n = 13) and without (n = 20) PTSD reviewed the booklet. Results: Overall, 89% of participants recommended the PNE booklet and 90% thought it would help patients with PTSD and pain. Although patients with PTSD rated the PNE booklet more critically than other participants, a particular support group (n = 4) rated the PNE booklet significantly different (p < .05) than remaining participants with PTSD (n = 9). Individuals with PTSD and pain were able to comprehend the PNE booklet at a comparable rate to an expert medical panel and participants without PTSD after adjusting for education levels (p = .12). Conclusions: Many patients with PTSD and pain avoid painful activities because they believe they are harmful. This research demonstrates that individuals with PTSD and pain can comprehend PNE that challenges these beliefs. The PNE curriculum developed by this research may provide a logical explanation for the link between PTSD symptoms and pain and should be tested for clinical effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-485
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • PTSD
  • neuroscience education
  • pain
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of a pain neuroscience education program for post-traumatic stress disorder and pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this