Physical therapists (PTs) have a high risk of developing musculoskeletal pain (MP) due to the physically demanding nature of their work tasks. Experience or the specialty area, have been associated with MP, however, previous studies are few and small. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between work-related factors and MP among PTs.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we collected information about MP and work-related factors of 1006 PTs using an online questionnaire. Associations between various work-related factors and MP were modelled using logistic regression controlled for various confounders.

Results: Neck (57%) and low back pain (49%) were most common. Work-related factors associated with higher risk for having moderate-to-high MP (≥ 3 on a scale of 0-10) were «treating more patients at the same time» [OR 2.14 (95% CI 1.53-2.99)], «working ≥45 h per week» [OR 1.73 (95% CI 1.05-2.84)], and «work in a seated position» [OR 2.04 (95% CI 1.16-3.57)] for the low back. «More years of experience» showed a negative association for elbow pain [OR 0.41 (95% CI 0.21-0.78)] and low back pain [OR 0.48 (95% CI 0.29-0.79)] compared with their less experienced counterparts.

Conclusions: The lack of professional experience, working in private clinics, working in a seated position and high workload are associated with the higher risk for MP among PTs. These results add further insight about the relevance of such factors, which might be considered for developing effective interventions to prevent work-related MP and better working conditions among PTs.