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Effect of Guided Imagery on Pain and Health-Related Quality of Life in Musculoskeletal Medicine: a Comprehensive Narrative Review

  • Alternative Treatments for Pain Medicine (M Jones, Section Editor)
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Purpose of Review

Guided imagery (GI) is a non-pharmacological method used to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety. No comprehensive review has yet investigated the application of GI in musculoskeletal medicine, its various types, and potential mechanisms. The aim of this comprehensive narrative review was to examine the types of GI used in musculoskeletal medicine and GI effect on pain and health-related quality of life.

Recent Findings

A comprehensive narrative review of the English language scientific literature. PubMed, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and PEDro databases were searched from inception until August 2020 using keywords related to GI, musculoskeletal disorders, pain, and health-related quality of life. The search results generated 133 articles. After a critical analysis, 12 publications were included in this review. GI characteristics and protocols varied significantly between studies.


Based on the reviewed studies, we advocate GI as a safe, non-invasive technique that can assist in managing pain, depression, stress, fatigue, anxiety, reducing medication use, improving general well-being, wellness, and quality of life in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. We recommend further investigations of GI mechanisms.

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The authors thank Mrs. Phyllis Curchack Kornspan for her editorial services.


The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.

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Authors and Affiliations



Anat Kaplun is a Ph.D. student. Her main research interest is the effect of guided imagery on various aspects of musculoskeletal morbidity. This comprehensive review was performed as a part of thesis preparation. Findings from this review contribute to her ongoing research. Deborah Alperovitch-Najenson, PT, Ph.D. Lecturer. Her main research interests are work-related musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics. She co-supervised the project, provided expertise in review methodology and writing. Leonid Kalichman, PT, Ph.D. He is a primary supervisor and head of the Musculoskeletal Medicine Research Lab.

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Correspondence to Leonid Kalichman.

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Kaplun, A., Alperovitch-Najenson, D. & Kalichman, L. Effect of Guided Imagery on Pain and Health-Related Quality of Life in Musculoskeletal Medicine: a Comprehensive Narrative Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep 25, 76 (2021).

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