Physiotherapy Services Papers

Physiotherapy Services Papers

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An unrecognised masquerader: a retrospective review of people presenting to musculoskeletal physiotherapy with undiagnosed spondyloarthritis.

McCrum C, Kenyon K, Cleaton J, Dudley T. An unrecognised masquerader: a retrospective review of people presenting to musculoskeletal physiotherapy with undiagnosed spondyloarthritis. Physiotherapy. 2019;105:e102-e3. https://www.physiotherapyjournal.com/article/S0031-9406(18)30423-1/abstract

Demonstrated the importance of physiotherapists in early recognition and referral of axial SpA. Exploration of 263 people (age 17- 69 years) diagnosed with spondyloarthritis during the period 1990 – 2016, who had received outpatient physiotherapy care prior to their diagnosis. Average time from initial physiotherapy visit to diagnosis with SpA was 6.4 years. The most common clinical diagnostic codes assigned to these episodes of care included back pain (49.6%), shoulder (11.1%), knee (8.5%), neck (7.7%), ankle/foot (4.3%), tendonitis (4.2%), joint pain (3.4%), osteoarthritis (3.4%) and sacroiliac joint (2%). 44% received 3 or more physiotherapy episodes prior to diagnosis – number of contacts within each episode ranging from 3 (47 people) to 58 (1 person), a median of 11 contacts per episode (10 people).

 


 

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Physiotherapists’ awareness, knowledge and confidence in screening and referral of suspected axial spondyloarthritis: A survey of UK clinical practice. Musculoskeletal Care.

Steen E, McCrum C, Cairns M. Physiotherapists’ awareness, knowledge and confidence in screening and referral of suspected axial spondyloarthritis: A survey of UK clinical practice. Musculoskeletal Care. 2021 https://doi.org/10.1002/msc.1537

Suggested that musculoskeletal physiotherapists may not be giving adequate consideration to axial SpA in back pain assessments. Awareness of national referral guidance was also limited. 132 survey responses were analysed. Only 67% (88/132) of respondents identified inflammatory pathologies as a possible cause of persistent back pain. Only 60% (79/132) recognised the axial SpA vignette compared to non-specific low back pain (94%) and radicular syndrome (80%). Most suspecting axial SpA would refer for specialist assessment (77/79; 92%). Awareness of national referral guidance was evident in only 50% of ‘clinical reasoning’ and 20% of ‘further subjective screening’ responses. There was misplaced confidence in recognising clinical features of axial SpA compared to knowledge levels shown, including high importance given to inflammatory markers and HLA-B27. Good awareness of the NICE 2017 guidance on SpA and continued professional development was associated with better awareness and knowledge of axial SpA features. Professional education on screening and referral for suspected axial SpA is needed to make axial SpA screening and referral criteria core knowledge in musculoskeletal clinical practice, to support earlier diagnosis and better outcomes for patients.

 


 

Symptoms starting slowly

Pain in the lower back

Improves with movement

Night time waking

Early onset (under 40)