At a glance

Personalised physiotherapy treatment for young people experiencing pain

Lead researcher

Dr Rhiannon Joslin


University of Southampton


Awarded and preparing to start

Amount awarded


Last updated



Pain felt over joints, muscles and ligaments (musculoskeletal pain) affects up to one third of young people.

Rhiannon Joslin

Muscle and joint pains, sprains, and broken bones are all common as a child. Most young people can get better, but for others, pain can continue into adult life.

Physiotherapy is recommended for people with these types of ongoing pain problems but very little is known about why it can help. Past research showed it was how the treatment was given that mattered to young people and impacted their recovery.

Dr Rhiannon Joslin from the University of Southampton has been awarded a Medical Research Foundation-Versus Arthritis Catalyst Fellowship to develop a training package for physiotherapists to help them deliver personalised treatments for young people with musculoskeletal pain.

The intervention is being designed in stages by young people who have experience of physiotherapy for pain, their parents, and physiotherapists themselves.

Initially, workshops with young people (aged 14-18) will select creative ways to help them retell their story and set treatment goals. Young people, parents and physiotherapists will then provide feedback on how these approaches could be used in clinical practice. Feedback will improve the draft until no changes are made and the training package is finalised.

A future study will then compare the result of physiotherapy with and without the training. Longer-term, personalised physiotherapy could increase the number of young people who get better, and prevent pain and problems lasting into adult life.

Dr Joslin said: “We hope that by personalising physiotherapy treatment, this will allow young people to feel more in control, reach their goals and prevent these problems from lasting into later life.”

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