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Most doctors are well aware that there are serious shortcomings in the medical management of most musculoskeletal problems, especially chronic pain cases. Dr. Jonathon Tomlinson, an instructor at St. Leonards Hospital in Hoxton, explains that “undergraduate training is focused on hospital orthopedics (broken bones and anything else that’s amenable to surgery) or rheumatology (nasty inflammatory diseases) which comprise a minority of the aches/pains/strains and injuries that people actually suffer from.”

Medical researchers have done many studies showing that most doctors do not understand aches and pains or heed expert recommendations. A good recent example is a paper in the Archives of Internal Medicine showing that family doctors frequently ignore guidelines for the care of low back pain — see Williams et al.

More generally, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, and the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, have both published papers recently showing that physicians simply do not have an adequate understanding of musculoskeletal medicine. In 2002, Freedman et al felt that “It is … reasonable to conclude that medical school preparation in musculoskeletal medicine is inadequate.” Then again in 2005 in JBJS, Matzkin et al concluded that “training in musculoskeletal medicine is inadequate in both medical school and non-orthopaedic residency training programs.” Most recently, in 2006, Stockard et al wrote “82% of allopathic graduates … failed to demonstrate basic competency in musculoskeletal medicine.”