Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in physical therapists attributable to manual therapy

Lauren Cornwell, Haley Doyle, Megan Stohner, Charles Hazle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Use of manual therapy (MT) is a risk factor for the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) in physical therapists (PTs) although the current evidence is limited on this topic. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to understand the type, association, and prevalence of WRMDs among practitioners of MT, explore relationships between MT and WRMD, and determine impacts of WRMDs on PTs. Design: Cross-sectional survey design. Methods: A web-based survey was distributed through the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. The survey gathered information on the respondents’ professional profiles, any WRMDs sustained, and how those injuries affected their professional and personal lives. Results: Overall, 38.5% of PT respondents using MT reported having sustained an MT attributable WRMD. Female respondents reported a greater rate of MT attributable injuries. Although exposure risk is cumulative, novice practitioners are also injured. Limitations: Generalizability of these results may be limited because of the sample size and specific population responding. Conclusion: Over one-third of PT survey respondents reported WRMDs attributable to MT. The results indicated WRMDs may begin early in one’s career and tend to accumulate over years of practice. MT educational programming at all levels warrants emphasis on practitioner safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • manual physical therapist
  • manual therapy
  • physical therapy
  • work-related injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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