Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

The Pain & Therapy Bibliography

A unique database of scientific sources about musculoskeletal pain, injury & treatment, constantly updated & annotated since 1997

Photo of an extremely bright, sunny library with bookshelves receding into the distance and disappearing into blazing sunshine. In the center of the light, there is a barely visible silhouette of a salamander.

Some people collect stamps; I collect science about painful musculoskeletal problems (with a smattering of important items from other areas of pain science). I have been building this database for about 26 years now. It’s big — about 3300 scientific papers, and another thousand other items like books, webpages, etc. — but it does not pretend to be comprehensive (there are huge institutional databases for that, especially the Physiotherapy Evidence Database).

What makes this bibliography valuable is that its contents were hand-picked, every record chosen for a reason, and many hundreds of them are also described and “translated,” their significance emphasized, with links to related articles. I favour sources with an interesting angle: surprising results, odd methods, profound implications, and so on.

In short, it has depth and character.

So where is it?

All around you! The bibliography is everywhere on, in the footnotes mostly,1Like so:

Woolf CJ. Central sensitization: Implications for the diagnosis and treatment of pain. Pain. 2010 Oct;152(2 Suppl):S2–15. PubMed #20961685 ❐ PainSci #54851 ❐
but there is no master table of contents for it. See below for lists of the most recent entries below and Greatest Hits. Thousands of individual entires will also bibliography pages with a site search (use the search box at the top of the home page).

Flow chart: first cell, new study published. Second, does it confirm my beliefs? If yes, must be a good study. If no, must be a bad study, nitpick and find flaws, bad study confirmed. Both pathways lead to the conclusion: I was right all along!

Anyone can cite studies that seem to support their position … or dismiss ones that seem to undermine it. There is plenty of ‘art’ involved in the wise analysis & interpretation of research.

About footnotes & citation style

A robust bibliography and “good footnotes” still set PainScience apart in modern online publishing.2My footnotes contain either extra commentary and whimsical asides, or citations to science and other sources. It’s still rare to see effective footnoting on websites.3It’s a gnarly technology and design problem. Bibliographic data and citation formats do not play nicely with modern publishing technology. There’s lots of software for wrangling references on your PC, but it’s still almost impossible to integrate them (efficiently) into blogs and websites. It still has to mostly be done “manually”… and so it mostly doesn’t get done. I have invested heavily over the years in doing it right.

I first put on a firm bibliographic foundation in 2007 — a “footnotes first” content management system based on the fairly exotic BibTeX data format, a huge custom programming job. In 2015, I converted my referencing format to the Vancouver system,4In 1978, editors of medical journals from around the world met here — probably close to where I live — and thrashed out a new standard. It was so difficult and tedious that they named it after the city they were trapped in. Their work is still the standard today, and it is heavily documented. the standard used by most medical journals, along with a bunch of other upgrades — a massive project.5I had to re-tool the footnote factory & re-train all the bibliography gnomes. Weirdly, I felt much more comfortable diving into this Sysyphean chore simply because the new standard was named after where I live. Every footnote is lovingly crafted by software — essential for mass production. I had to reprogram that software to speak “Vancouver style.” Read more.

All of this is extraordinary for a private educational site — unique, in fact. I take referencing really seriously!

Recent bibliography highlights

The last 10 items added with a summary of more than 120 words.

100 bibliography highlights

What’s here? 100 of the best and most interesting are listed here — the quirkiest, the best news, the worst news, the most compelling. The greatest hits of pain science.

  1. A critical evaluation of the trigger point phenomenon
  2. Spinal manipulation no better for back pain than placebos
  3. Central sensitization
  4. Functional Movement Screen unreliable
  5. Adverse events and cervical manipulation for neck pain
  6. Promising trial of cognitive functional therapy for low back pain
  7. Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage
  8. Forefoot runners have fewer injuries, but causality unclear
  9. Neck strength can reduce chronic neck pain long-term
  10. Regular Swedish versus “tensegrity-based” massage
  11. Location of back and neck pain could not be detected by feel
  12. More than 20% of manual therapy treatments do some harm
  13. Cellular response to simulated myofascial release
  14. Worn out shoes do change the biomechanics of running, but not much
  15. Small, flawed trial of foam rolling shows 8% ROM increase
  16. Comparison of 2 types of massage for chronic low back pain
  17. Trial of therapeutic massage for neck pain
  18. Brief, intense muscular training for cardiovascular fitness
  19. Patellar maltracking in patellofemoral pain with patella alta
  20. Why Most Published Research Findings Are False
  21. Curcumin “likely” reduces muscle soreness after exercise
  22. Thigh and hip exercises effective for patellofemoral pain
  23. Increased trapezius pain sensitivity is not associated with increased tissue hardness
  24. Regular hamstring stretching increased range of motion
  25. The greatest hits of back pain science are a disappointment
  26. Massage therapy probably helps patients with bone cancer
  27. Flexibility gains due to changes in sensation, not muscle length
  28. Safe but useless for knee arthritis: glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, and celecoxib
  29. The iliotibial band is uniformly, firmly attached to the femur
  30. Intense, brief workouts almost as effective as time-consuming cardio
  31. Trial of glucosamine for low back pain finds no therapeutic effect
  32. Nerve root impingement fairly rare, barely more common in car accident victims
  33. A fascinating landmark study of placebo surgery for knee osteoarthritis
  34. The hazards of NSAIDs, especially diclofenac
  35. Massage vs minimal exercise for poor circulation
  36. Education, not core exercise, reduces back pain incidence in soldiers
  37. Trigger points are acidic and contain pain-causing metabolites
  38. 8 weeks of core strengthening, coordination exercise for chronic low back pain
  39. Do strong quadriceps help patellofemoral pain?
  40. Surprisingly effective back pain injection: intradiscal methylene blue
  41. Quality of online sports medicine information “highly variable”
  42. Only quantity of exercise for back pain produces better results
  43. Failed trial of vertebroplasty for compression fractures
  44. Deyo and Weinstein’s 2001 low back pain tutorial
  45. Regular, moderate exercise boosts makes neutrophils busier for longer
  46. Yoga, stretching equally and slightly effective for back pain
  47. Stress fractures: it’s not how hard you hit the ground, but how fast you hit it
  48. Intravascular danger signals guide neutrophils to sites of sterile inflammation
  49. Current evidence does not support Botox for trigger points
  50. Online tutorials for chronic pain reduced pain, anxiety, disability
  51. Prebiotics reduces waking cortisol response
  52. Functional implications of the Q-angle in the patellofemoral joint
  53. Botox for trigger points, update
  54. Strong criticism of “more is better” strength training
  55. Chiropractic subluxation is still “unsupported speculation”
  56. Special core strengthening prevents no more injuries than ordinary sit-ups
  57. Both heat and cold for back and neck strain mildly beneficial
  58. Massage impairs post exercise muscle blood flow and lactic acid removal
  59. General practitioners do not follow guidelines for low back pain care
  60. A review of low quality evidence about exercise for neck pain
  61. Chiropractic identity, role and future: survey
  62. Is hip strength a risk factor for patellofemoral pain?
  63. Regular physical activity prevents chronic pain
  64. Stretching and heart rate variability in inflexible subjects
  65. Smoking associated with low back pain, intervertebral disc disease
  66. Cramps caused by effort, not dehydration and electrolyte shortage
  67. Recent injury had no effect on FMS scores
  68. Asymmetry of psoas and quadratus lumborum unrelated to injury
  69. No clear benefit to muscle relaxants for acute neck strain
  70. The science of trigger point diagnosis is a confusing mess so far
  71. Myoglobin in plasma after trigger point massage
  72. Cherries for soreness? Well, weakness at least
  73. What causes the burn in intense muscle effort?
  74. Dry needling for myofascial pain, review
  75. A disturbing and typical example of sloppy modern acupuncture research
  76. Promising results from athroscopic surgery for IT band syndrome
  77. Does long-distance running lead to cartilage damage? An MRI study
  78. Underwhelming: spinal adjustment and massage for back pain, neck pain
  79. The effect of leg length on back pain: a classic test
  80. Is exercise effective, or just efficacious?
  81. Lumbosacral transition vertebra prevalence, significance
  82. The Conundrum of Calcaneal Spurs
  83. A major, comprehensive report on treatments for knee arthritis
  84. Magnetic resonance imaging in follow-up assessment of sciatica
  85. Minor benefits of pilates for chronic low back pain
  86. Tuning fork, ultrasound diagnosis of stress fractures is unreliable
  87. Hamstring flexibility cannot predict lumbar joint use in reaching
  88. Women adapt effectively and minimally to wearing high heels
  89. Acupuncture for back pain, a poor quality trial
  90. Can trigger point therapy improve restricted ankle joint motion?
  91. Review: patients are “highly satisfied” with physical therapy
  92. Extremely thorough, valuable review of studies of back pain treatments
  93. Stretching, strengthening don’t affect knee and shin injury rates in soldiers in basic training
  94. Exercise reduces anterior knee pain risk
  95. Prospective Predictors of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
  96. Kinesio taping in treatment and prevention of sports injuries
  97. Icing delays recovery from muscle soreness
  98. Deep friction massage to treat tendinopathy: still no evidence
  99. Fascia is too tough for mechanical deformation

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