University of Technology Sydney

96083 Pain Neuroscience and Management

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health (GEM)
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Students learn to manage acute and chronic pain conditions using contemporary pain neuroscience. An understanding of neurobiological mechanisms and psychological factors leading to pain informs assessment and management in clients with acute and chronic pain. Students gain an understanding of the role of the physiotherapist in the wider interdisciplinary pain management team. Students use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning to identify interventions that target pain neurobiology and maladaptive beliefs psychology including education-focused interventions. Emerging approaches to pain management are addressed and pain management is considered in special populations such as stroke, dystonia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, children and the elderly.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

02. Link structural and/or functional pathophysiology to a client’s clinical presentation
04. Assess client's problems with reference to the WHO ICF domains of impairment, activity limitation and participation restriction
06. Apply clinical reasoning to determine best physiotherapy care
08. Justify assessment selection with reference to the evidence for its clinimetric properties
15. Establish goals with client and families/caregivers
17. Collaborate and participate in shared decision-making with the client and relevant others
18. Design an intervention
19. Provide an evidence-based justification for intervention selection
25. Evaluate the efficacy of an intervention
27. Use education to empower clients and caregivers
30. Empower a client’s self-management and self-efficacy
39. Maintain professionalism in verbal and written communication

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

The learning outcomes for this subject are as follows:

  • Knowledge and skills: Integrate core biomedical and social health science knowledge across the breadth of physiotherapy practice to inform assessment and safe, competent and skilled practical care of individuals across the lifespan as an autonomous practitioner and as a member of an interprofessional team. (01.01)
  • Clinical reasoning: Identify impairment, activity and participation deficits in individuals in accordance with the International Classification of Function, Disability and Health framework and develop evidence-based care plans in accordance with best practice physiotherapy. (01.02)
  • Critical thinker: Critically analyse the evidence underpinning practice and effectively apply new knowledge to practice; conduct and disseminate high-quality research to improve professional knowledge and influence direction of future practice. (02.05)
  • Research-enabled: Apply scientific research skills to advance the evidence base supporting physiotherapy practice. (02.09)
  • Communication: Communicate effectively using high-level interpersonal skills in both traditional modes of communication and when integrating advances in technology and methods of intervention delivery into patient care. (03.06)
  • Client focus: Provide empathetic, compassionate and respectful patient-focused care, facilitating client self-management, advocating for best practice care and empowering clients by education. (04.03)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Practice ready

Graduates of the Master of Physiotherapy are knowledgeable, practice-readyclinicians, skilled in providing safe and effective evidence-based care to clientsacross the lifespan, using a wide range of therapeutic approaches includingskilled hands on practice, and in a variety of clinical settings as both independentand collaborative practitioners.


Graduates of the Master of Physiotherapy effectively integrate research evidenceinto practice, are proactive in identifying gaps in knowledge and are competentto undertake research to advance the evidence base and inform futurephysiotherapy practice.

Professionally Competent

Graduates of the Master of Physiotherapy embody professional and ethical practice, maintaining knowledge and competence at local and global standards. Graduates embrace opportunities for leadership and advanced roles, utilise deliberate practice to optimise physiotherapy care and advocate for the profession in interdisciplinary contexts.


Graduates of the Master of Physiotherapy are empathetic, person-centredpractitioners who empower client self-management and endorse preventativecare by forming and valuing partnerships with individuals, families andcommunities.

Teaching and learning strategies

Prep work
Preparation (Prep) work is undertaken prior to masterclasses and workshops. Prep work can include watching a video, reading a blog entry/website/textbook chapter/journal article/magazine article and/or listening to a podcast/video/interview. Questions often accompany the prep work so students read with intent which encourages deep reading. Content covered in prep work is strongly linked to content covered in masterclasses and workshops. Please ensure prep work is carried out so that you have spent some time accessing and making sense of ideas. Attending the masterclasses and workshops will allow you to test these ideas and get feedback from your teachers and peers which will further consolidate your learning. Your knowledge and understanding of the prep work will be tested and applied using quizzes, group discussions and practical activities in masterclasses and workshops. (Prep work in this subject also includes attending anatomy wet lab classes. Activities in anatomy wet lab classes include guided group work where students are trained to observe, palpate and locate anatomical structures.)

Masterclasses are conducted in groups of 60 or more. There is usually a presentation of content by the teacher followed by activities which build on the prep work and the content presented. These activities are varied and require students to work alone, work in pairs or work in groups of 3 or more.

Examples of these activities include short quizzes, group discussions and “One Minute Paper” where students reflect on what they have learnt in class and share this with the class. Group discussions often involve solving a problem or answering a question based on case studies or the content topic. All activities are facilitated by the teacher. Feedback is provided by the teacher where there is discrepancy in the knowledge and understanding of the content or disagreement in opinions between groups. Feedback can also be provided by peers.

Workshops are conducted in groups of 15-35. Content in classes often include the practice of practical skills and further consolidation of information gained in masterclasses. These activities are varied and often require students to work in pairs or work in groups of 3 or more. Examples of these activities include the practice of practical skills, simulated role play of patients in case studies, group discussions, debates, brainstorming session and “One Minute Paper”. In the classes where practical skills are taught, the teacher demonstrates these practical skills and provide guidance on how feedback should be provided. After the demonstration, students work in small groups of 3 or more to practise. Feedback on their techniques are provided by the teacher or their peers. The content of feedback will cover professionalism, communication, equipment set-up, environment set-up, positioning of patient, positioning of therapist and manual handling/manual guidance. Feedback on common errors and suggestions for improvement will also be included. In the classes where theoretical content are consolidated and applied, feedback is provided by the teacher where there is discrepancy in the knowledge and understanding of the content or disagreement in opinions between groups. Feedback can also be provided by peers.

Content (topics)

Pain Neuroscience and Management provide students with a comprehensive understanding of physiotherapy assessment and management of acute and chronic pain. Behavioural management, self-management and client education introduced in this subject are applied to a range of chronic diseases in the subject 96089 Prevention and Rehabilitation in the Community. The role of the physiotherapist in the interprofessional management of the chronic pain client links this subject to 96081 Professional Practice and with other subjects where interprofessional practice is emphasised.


Assessment task 1: Time constrained online, in class threshold quiz - pain classifications, mechanisms and pain neurobiology


This assessment task addresses students’ command of the foundation knowledge required for success in this subject. The questions in the quiz are divided up into three sections:

  1. The theories and background of pain,
  2. Anatomy and pathophysiology, and
  3. Clinical relevance.

This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:


This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

01.01 and 01.02

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Students will have 120 min to complete the in-class assessment and 48hrs to complete the 40 question assessment to reach the 90% threshold.


Your total grade on the assessment equates to the number of correct answers you obtain during the in-class assessment.

Assessment task 2: Case study assignment


In this assessment task students demonstrate their understanding of pain management by developing a behavioural management plan, including appropriate strategies for behaviour change and adherence. Particular emphasis is placed on therapeutic education and pacing strategies.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

04, 06, 08, 15, 17, 18, 19, 25, 27 and 30

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

01.01, 01.02, 02.05, 02.09, 03.06 and 04.03

Type: Case study
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%

Students will have 1 week to complete the assignment.


Please refer to Canvas for the marking criteria for this assessment task. (Marks in bold add up to 30%).

Assessment task 3: Pain education verbal assessment


This task assesses student ability to educate patients about pain. It relates to ongoing practice activities throughout the semester, and reflects current care guidelines for physiotherapy practice.


This task is aligned with the following subject learning objectives:

06, 17, 18, 27, 30 and 39

This task is aligned with the following course learning outcomes:

01.01, 01.02, 02.05, 03.06 and 04.03

Type: Demonstration
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%

Six minutes


Please refer to Canvas for the marking criteria for this assessment task.

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, you are required to:

  • Complete all assessments items
  • Pass assessment task 1
  • Achieve an overall grade of ≥ 50%
  • Attend a minimum of 85% of classes
  • Attend oral defence interview if required

Required texts

Coursework Assessments Policy

Procedures for assessment of Coursework Subjects

Graduate School of Health Policy, Guidelines and Procedures (login required)

Recommended texts

Explain Pain Supercharged The Clinicians Manual. Moseley GL and Butler DS. (2017) Noigroup Publications. Adelaide

Moseley GL, Butler DS, Beams TB and Giles TJ (2012) The graded motor imagery handbook. Sydney: Noigroup publications.

Moseley GL and Butler DS (2015) The Explain Pain Handbook: Protectometer. Sydney: Noigroup publications.