Episode 115 - Annie O'Connor, part 2: Words, Moves and Foods

Annie O'Connor PT OCS Cert MDT


   Annie O’Connor received her BS in PT from St. Louis University in 1986 and a masters in Orthopedic PT from Northwest University in 1993.  She’s an orthopedic clinical specialist as recognized by the APTA since 1999 and is credentialed in MDT since 2005.  She’s co-authored multiple peer-reviewed studies, articles in national and international publications, book chapters and is the co-author of her new book A World of Hurt: A guide to Classifying Pain.

Annie is the recipient of the 2009 Henry B. Betts Innovation Award.  She currently is the clinical manager for the Rehab Institute of Chicago at the River Forest Spine and Sport Center.

Show Notes

Exploring Pain

Annie gives us a rundown of the important questions within the MDT assessment, and how these questions can help us key in on the patient’s pain.

Pain location, duration


Worse/Better, directional preference

She goes on to help interpret central sensitivity and some familiar frustrating patient scenarios.


Memorable Patient Case

Annie recalls several patient scenarios where a 2 week pain journal came in handy. She explains the 3 dimensions of pain (mechanical, emotional, and social), and discusses how valuable a tool a pain journal can be to recognize that pain is connected to other dimensions than just movement.


Pain Analogies

Annie compares pain to a criminal investigation. She notes the importance of identifying all potential “perpetrators” in order to rule in and out pain mechanisms.



The Sensitive Nervous System - David Butler

A World of Hurt- Annie O’Connor, Melissa Kolski



Relevant Studies


The integration of pain sciences into clincal practice. Butler et al. J Hand Ther. 1997 Apr-Jun;10(2):86-95.

Does it matter which exercise? A randomized control trial of exercise for low back pain. Long et al. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2004 Dec 1;29(23):2593-602.

The brain in chronic CRPS pain: Abnormal gray-white matter interactions in emotional and autonomic regions. Geha et al. Neuron. 2008 Nov 26;60(4):570-81.

Validation of a pain mechanism classification system (PMCS) in physical therapy practice. Kolski et al.  J Man & Manip Ther. 2014 Sept.


Annie’s Advice

Annie encourages us to ask people if you can make recommendations, rather than assuming that people want your help. She stresses the importance listening to the patient.


Contacting Annie