Kinesiophobia and why it is holding you back - Pain 2 Possibilities

Kinesiophobia and why it is holding you back

​Hard word to say but easy to understand, especially if you are living in chronic or persistent pain.

Kinesiophobia is defined as 'an excessive, irrational and debilitating fear to carry out a physical movement, due to a feeling of vulnerability to a painful injury or reinjury' (Kori S, Miller R, Todd DD. Kiniseophobia: a new review of chronic pain behaviour). Simply put, it is the fear of pain due to movement. It is the second most common cause of disability in the general population.

Here is where the conundrum lies for a person living in chronic pain. 

Physical inactivity is a potential factor for developing and maintaining chronic musculoskeletal pain, whereas physical activity has positive benefits in decreasing pain and disability in many musculoskeletal conditions​. However, for those living with chronic pain, the fear of movement is very real. This fear limits the amount of movement and exercise which then potentially leads to a more sedentary lifestyle.

It becomes a circle of fear and ambivolence which then increases the intensity of pain.

So when exercise is prescribed as a part of your healing regime, kinesiophobia rears it's ugly head ​thereby limiting the benefits of rehabilitative exercises.

So what is one to do?

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  • Work closely with your care provider or manual therapist (chiropractor, osteopath, exercise specialist) to work through an exercise regime specifically that suits your unique needs. Spend time to really get to know these movements because if done well, they will help to make you stronger.
  • ​Practice those small but meaningful moves weekly to master them.
  • Start from where you are. Understand that if you are living in pain, you will not be able to start from where you left off or even where you may have been in the past.
  • ​Be sure to breathe through your exercises as this will help to calm your brain and central nervous system thereby lessening the pain.
  • ​Listen to your body and work within your threshold. This means understanding where your pain lies, what movement that area of your body can tolerate safely and then work within that range.
  • Learn to master a calming, positive mindset to change your experience with pain. (Yes this one takes some practice but will add huge impact in reducing your fear of movement).
  • Be aware of what words are rattling around in your head when you are in pain. Is there any way you can turn those thoughts around into something more empowering? My guess is, yes you can!