Kinesiophobia – The hidden reason why the back pain becomes chronic
Kinesiophobia is a disorder where a person believes that movement can cause more injury and pain. A constant cycle of pain, fear, disuse and depression can be a result of kinesiophobia and it definitely slows down a normal recovering process from injury. This can also lead to a long-term problems and chronic pain.
Persons with kinesiophobia tend to believe that the pain what they are experiencing may worsen if they do exercises and certain movements. They start to decrease their physical activity which unfortunately causes even more problems like joint stiffness, unnecessary muscle tension, supporting muscles weakness, etc. People with kinesiophobia are in a pain cycle (picture below), and getting out of this circle is very hard to do on their own.
As a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor I have treated many chronic back pain clients who are terrified exercising but want to get better. Some of them have already had bad experiences on Physical Therapy and doctors care. Painkillers do definitely not help if the source of pain mostly comes from patient’s fear, compensations and guarding. In Physical Therapy the trend is to work on many clients at same time, so they probably don’t have any extra time to concentrate or realize your fear and compensations. It is not either a good idea to give home exercises to people who has a kinesiophopia because they find it hard to do them correctly. Fear of pain also effects negatively to neuro-muscle connection and muscle recruitment, so exercises may do more harm than good. However, the truth is that movement heals and it has a crucial role of chronic back pain treatment, but it really does matter what kind of exercises and instruction you get to actually help you.
One-on-one Pilates with skilled Physical Therapist or very experienced Pilates instructor can help those who have kinesiophobia and chronic back pain. Well designed, slow, graded and progressive Pilates program which aims on practicing control of movement, breathing and proper muscle work will definitely help reduce fear of movement and also gradually overcome kinesiophobia. In Pilates every movement has to be PAIN FREE! Pilates with a good teacher helps you get your confidence in your ability to move. Returning to normal movement is an important step in breaking the kinesiophobia pain cycle. Pilates exercises help you rebuild normal movement and function which in turn relieve pain and improve your overall quality of life. Staying active is a critical component of chronic pain and back pain treatment. Don’t let your fear ruin your full potential recovery and stop you to do the activities that you love.
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