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Best-Evidence Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain Part 2: Pain during and after Cancer Treatment

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, KU Leuven, University of Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, MOVANT, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
Pain in Motion International Research Group, Department of Physiotherapy, Human Physiology and Anatomy (KIMA), Faculty of Physical Education & Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Laarbeeklaan 103, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
Department of Physical Medicine and Physiotherapy, University Hospital Brussels, Laarbeeklaan 101, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
Pain in Motion International Research Group, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Support statement: ADG is a post-doctoral research fellow of the FWO-Flanders.
J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8(7), 979;
Received: 5 June 2019 / Revised: 24 June 2019 / Accepted: 4 July 2019 / Published: 5 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rehabilitation for Persistent Pain Across the Lifespan)
PDF [258 KB, uploaded 5 July 2019]


Pain during, and especially after, cancer remains underestimated and undertreated. Moreover, both patients and health care providers are not aware of potential benefits of rehabilitation strategies for the management of pain during and following cancer treatment. In this paper, we firstly provided a state-of-the-art overview of the best evidence rehabilitation modalities for patients having (persistent) pain during and following cancer treatment, including educational interventions, specific exercise therapies, manual therapies, general exercise therapies and mind-body exercise therapies. Secondly, the findings were summarized from a clinical perspective and discussed from a scientific perspective. In conclusion, best evidence suggests that general exercise therapy has small pain-relieving effects. Supporting evidence for mind-body exercise therapy is available only in breast cancer patients. At this moment, there is a lack of high-quality evidence to support the use of specific exercises and manual therapy at the affected region for pain relief during and after cancer treatment. No clinically relevant results were found in favor of educational interventions restricted to a biomedical approach of pain. To increase available evidence these rehabilitation modalities should be applied according to, and within, a multidisciplinary biopsychosocial pain management approach. Larger, well-designed clinical trials tailored to the origin of pain and with proper evaluation of pain-related functioning and the patient’s pain experience are needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; pain; rehabilitation; exercise cancer; pain; rehabilitation; exercise
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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De Groef, A.; Penen, F.; Dams, L.; Van der Gucht, E.; Nijs, J.; Meeus, M. Best-Evidence Rehabilitation for Chronic Pain Part 2: Pain during and after Cancer Treatment. J. Clin. Med. 2019, 8, 979.

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