anxiety about movement can impair quality of life

published on 16/06/2022 16:09 / updated on 16/06/2022 16:09


(Credit: Ed Alves / CB / DA Press)

There is a common belief that performing certain activities can cause discomfort or cause injury, a recurring concern especially among people living with chronic pain. This fear is a natural reaction, but when felt excessively, to the point of preventing movements and exercises from being performed, it can be considered a disorder known as kinesiophobia.

In addition to the mental exhaustion caused by the patient always being alert and attentive with anxiety about pain, kinesiophobia ends up making the individual even more sedentary and inactive. According to Daniel Oliveira, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the spine and director of the Belo Horizonte Orthopedic and Traumatology Center (NOT), Daniel Oliveira, the disorder has a higher incidence in people with chronic pain, such as low back pain, migraine, osteoporosis and osteopenia.

“In the lower back, for example, the patient prefers not to perform movements in the belief that they will aggravate the pain or cause new injuries to the spine. The lack of exercise reduces the strength of the muscles in the back and abdomen, which can further aggravate the chronic problem and pain. “, he learns. Migraines, the specialist continues, can also make the individual understand that the more static they remain, the less pain they will feel.

On the other hand, patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia in some cases feel anxious and afraid of performing activities and breaking bones, especially with punching or straining exercises, but what happens is exactly the opposite, Daniel Oliveira points out. “The stronger the muscles, the less likely they are to break,” he says, noting that people who have already injured their shoulder or knee are also strong candidates to avoid some activities for fear of getting injured again. .

The professional says that in order to try to overcome kinesiophobia, the first step is to seek psychological support. But the work, he emphasizes, is interdisciplinary. “The psychologist will make the patient aware of how to deal with this fear. The orthopedic surgeon or specialist in chronic pain will provide full support to treat and consider what can be done to improve the pathology, and point out what should not be done. , and what could make the disease worse. “

It is also important to seek out a physiotherapist and a physical educator to accompany the person during physical activities, to avoid excesses that can generate discomfort and damage the individual’s relationship to pain.

When it comes to low back pain, kinesiophobia can be an aggravating factor. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that 80% of the population has had or will have episodes of back pain throughout their lives. This pain is the second leading cause of visits to a doctor’s office, second only to headaches.

Daniel explains that low back pain should be monitored by an orthopedist, but it is important to strengthen the region to prevent this pain from developing or becoming chronic. “If fear causes the individual to avoid these strengthening exercises, inactivity can make this pain situation much worse.”

The ideal, no matter where the pain is installed, is that there is awareness that the movement must happen, little by little and progressively. In addition to improving the quality of life, it provides benefits and helps with the progress of treatment.

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