The ICD-11 and opportunities for the osteopathy profession

Kylie Fitzgerald, Brett Vaughan, Michael Fleischmann, Daniel Orchard

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


As the global osteopathic profession continues to evolve, so does our understanding of the clinical presentations managed in osteopathic practice. While this data builds knowledge of the role of osteopathy in pain management, a limitation is a universal understanding and data collection strategy about diagnosis. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) represents the international standard for identification and reporting of global health trends and epidemiological data. There are issues with ICD-10, particularly with respect to reporting chronic pain complaints. A task force developed new codes for chronic pain for the ICD-11 update. ICD-11 was ratified by the WHO in May 2019, and is scheduled for implementation in 2021. The adoption of the ICD-11 coding system in osteopathy education, practice and research would build upon previous research and enable enhanced reporting of chronic pain presentations. The ICD-11 offers a significant step towards a universal categorisation system that enables the identification of pain complaints amongst the plethora of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions. Practitioners, educators and researchers in osteopathy could use ICD-11 coding to facilitate data collection and evaluate treatment responses and explore the cost-effectiveness for osteopathy care. The introduction of the primary and secondary chronic musculoskeletal pain categories removes the need to allocate a tissue-causing-symptom diagnosis and allows the addition of pain mechanisms to facilitate appropriate care of a patients’ presenting condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-49
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Osteopathic Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Global health
  • International classification of diseases
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Osteopathic medicine
  • Pain management
  • World health organisation


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