Movies have always left a deeper impression on our brains but unfortunately not many will dare to explore a very non-glamorous topic of mental health. We must appreciate the efforts of the makers of the movie Phobia depicting a life suffering from Agoraphobia. But this is not the only phobia that we encounter in the society.
Being a Physiotherapist, gives us a chance to observe human movements very closely on a daily basis. And it is not just an observation but a well-researched fact that many of our clients suffering from musculoskeletal aches and pain carry fear of movements. It can be a client refusing to go back to gym after chronic low back pain or someone afraid of playing racket sports in any capacity after a rotator cuff tendinopathy. Every one of them carries some sort of fears and doubts. Many of them find a way through with guidance from appropriate practitioners but many get entangled in their own knitted web of fear.
When this fear becomes unreasonable, irrational and debilitating, it is called Kinesiophobia. This can be connected to a feeling of vulnerability and fear of injuring/re-injuring as suggested by Kori et al. Sometimes there is a total apathy towards movements. That is not just during exercise sessions but during daily activities as well, such as walking in the house or working at the kitchen platform.
It is very important to understand such behaviours in our clients as it can negatively influence rehabilitation process. Apart from rehab it also creates anxiety and related health issues. In case of an established diagnosis you can always seek help of a Physiotherapist skilled in understanding and managing Kinesiophobia. If needed a clinical psychologist can be approached for further counselling. Physiotherapists can provide a series of graded exercises along with right balance of motivation and empathy to achieve the desired goal.
Research till date suggests that Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK) given by Miller et al. in 1991 is the best tool to identify people suffering from Kinesiophobia. Clinicians from all the medical fields must start using this little questionnaire which is brief and reliable. The score of the test can be used as an outcome measure to check the progress in rehabilitation. Favourable scores is also an indicator to progress the client through exercise workload.
So next time you meet someone catastrophizing the pain, don’t feel troubled but guide them in the right direction.