APTA Learning Center

Your Access to Trusted Continuing Education

Mechanism-Based Assessment and Clinical Reasoning for Persistent Pain

  • Register
    • Non-Member - Free!
    • PT Member - Free!
    • PTA Member - Free!
    • Student - Free!
    • Post-Professional Student - Free!

Treating chronic pain conditions effectively still qualifies as an advanced clinical skill. Physical therapists are increasingly operating as frontline practitioners so treating chronic pain well should be part of any therapist’s basic skill set. While it is common to treat pain from a primary nociceptive perspective (mechanical pain), this approach often fails in patients with longstanding and highly interfering pain conditions. Understanding the mechanisms that drive a persistent pain process is critical for effectively treating pain in any patient. Pain mechanism classifications can help clinicians apply sound clinical reasoning that informs a treatment plan. Clinical reasoning based on a conceptual framework empowers clinicians to make sense of the patients’ signs and symptoms and select treatment options tailored to individual patient. Using this approach may also assist in explaining your treatment plan to the patient and engage your patients in a shared decision-making process. This course will offer practical tips for the evaluation of patients with mixed pain mechanism presentations and challenge learners to rethink evaluation strategies and treatment options for chronic pain.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learners will demonstrate knowledge of key pain mechanism terms.
  2. Learners will list the primary physiologic mechanisms that drive pain states.
  3. Participants will review psychological elements to consider in a comprehensive pain assessment.
  4. Learners will identify how to clinically assess at least two driving mechanisms in patients with chronic pain.

Kathryn A. Schopmeyer


Kathryn is Program Coordinator for the San Francisco VA Health Care System - Pain Clinic. She develops and coordinators chronic pain physical therapy treatments in close collaboration with other clinicians and departments in the San Francisco VA Health Care System.

Course Instructions

  1. Click on the Contents tab to watch the course recording.
  2. Click the Take Quiz button to complete the assessment. Learners will have 3 attempts to pass and must answer at least 70% of questions correctly.
  3. Click Fill Out Survey under the Evaluation listing to provide valuable course feedback. Scroll down on all questions as there may be answer options that expand past the size of the window.
  4. Click the View/Print Your Certificate button under the Certificate listing. You can view/print your certificate at any time by visiting the APTA Learning Center and clicking the CEU Certificate/Transcript link on the left-hand side of the page. 

Need Assistance?

For assistance logging in, accessing activities, claiming credit, or for other questions or concerns, please e-mail learningcenter@apta.org. 


Course Recording
Open to download resource.
Open to download resource. Please open the file and click on the link to access the course recording.
15 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  14/20 points to pass
15 Questions  |  3 attempts  |  14/20 points to pass Please complete the post-course assessment with a score of 70% or better. You have three attempts to obtain a passing score.
12 Questions
12 Questions Your comments are important to us! Submit your feedback about the course through this evaluation.
CEU Certificate
Up to 0.20 contact hours available  |  Certificate available
Up to 0.20 contact hours available  |  Certificate available Please download and save certificate for future use.