Point To Area of Pain: A Clinically Useful Telehealth Physical Exam Technique for Focal Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain

Christopher Yih, Krupali Chokshi, Christopher Kyriakides, Kyle Seko, Sayed Wahezi, Naum Shaparin, Amaresh Vydyanathan, Jean Carlo Gallardo, Lisa Morrow, Kevin Sperber, Jacob R. Hascalovici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Chronic pain is a leading cause of disease burden and disability globally. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a major paradigm shift in health care delivery with the universal adoption of telemedicine. Telehealth physical examination is particularly challenging and little guidance is available on this topic. Objectives: We attempt to describe the Point To the Area of Pain (PTAP) test and establish a consensus regarding its utility for musculoskeletal examination (MSK) via telehealth. Study Design: The authors drafted an online survey. Setting: The survey was sent to physicians and nurse practitioners within the authors’ respective departments and institutions who routinely use telemedicine to treat pain Methods: Respondents (n = 61) were asked about their primary specialty, comfort level in evaluating patients in pain, use of the PTAP test and its perceived clinical relevance to patient management, and other relevant questions. Results: Respondents were predominantly trained in Physiatry (47.5%), Anesthesiology (23%), Neurology (13.1%) and Family Medicine (11.5%); 67.2% of providers treat pain related diseases > 75% of the time; 50.8% of respondents were “somewhat comfortable” at performing a virtual MSK exam and 29.5% were “not comfortable”; 65.5% utilize the PTAP test and 88.5% agree or strongly agree that this test provides extrinsic clinically relevant information. Limitations: The relatively small number of respondents. Conclusion: PTAP tests should not replace the standard accepted in-person or virtual physical examination in practice, but in the absence of a hands-on exam, the PTAP test is a clear and concise test that can easily be performed in conjunction with other techniques via telehealth, and in the context of assessing pain provides useful clinical information that can help guide medical decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalPain physician
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Chronic pain
  • digital health
  • physical examination
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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