Pain Management Clinical Specialist Scope of Practice

Pain Management is an additional specialty area seeking recognition from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).  A group of Subject Matter Experts (SME) developed the scope of practice for a Pain Management Clinical Specialist and a draft Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) for the Pain Management Clinical Specialty.  The Pain Management Clinical Specialist is a physical therapist who utilizes a person centered approach to care within a biopsychosocial model. This specialty is conceptualized as a physical therapist who can manage general and diverse pain populations presenting with various pain classifications and etiologies.  These specialists practice at a much higher level compared to a non-specialized physical therapist. As expert practitioners Pain Management Clinical Specialists have advanced expertise in both traditional and non-traditional interventions to effectively and efficiently address the evolving global pain epidemic. The Pain Management Clinical Specialist is operationally defined as;       
An experienced physical therapy practitioner who:              
  • Has advanced expertise and knowledge to practice across the lifespan to both evaluate and treat clients across a wide spectrum of pain related health conditions            
  • Has attained this experience through formal post professional education and/or through years of experiential learning opportunities with this population.            
  • Has integrated a broader, evidence-based, approach to the patient-client management model across the spectrum of evaluation, examination, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and outcomes specific to pain-related health conditions.          
  • May be working in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, acute/urgent care or emergency department, substance use rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility, multidisciplinary pain clinic, hospital based or private outpatient clinic, inpatient rehabilitation, home health, telehealth, or as a team member in a prevention and wellness program.           
  • Is practicing more effectively and efficiently, at a higher level of care through broader knowledge, experience, and reflective practice than non-specialists.
  • Utilizes more advanced clinical reasoning as well as patient/client education, effective communication methods, and evidence-based decision-making in pain management than non-specialists.   
Although Pain Management Clinical Specialists may be ABPTS board certified in another specialty, they typically do not limit their practice to that area of specialization.