The Elephant in the Room: Too Much Medicine in Musculoskeletal Practice

Jeremy S Lewis, Chad E Cook, Tammy C Hoffmann, Peter O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


While advances in assessment and management of musculoskeletal conditions have improved care for many people, there have been other, less beneficial developments in the provision of care for people with musculoskeletal pain conditions, one of which is the worrying tendency to provide too much medicine. Too much medicine occurs when the provision of either investigation or intervention (or both) is unjustifiably excessive. Another concern in musculoskeletal health care is medicalizing normality-when a normal human function or condition is labeled as abnormal. In this Viewpoint, the authors argue that medicalizing normality creates health concerns where none exist, while too much medicine involves provision of care where benefits do not outweigh harms, and wastes precious health care resources. The authors (1) list 2 common examples of too much medicine, and 2 examples of medicalizing normality, relevant to physical therapy practice; (2) outline the drivers of too much medicine and medicalizing normality; and (3) make suggestions for change. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50(1):1-4. doi:10.2519/jospt.2020.0601.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number1
Early online date31 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


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