Evidence shows individuals who are afraid to move because of a fear they will reinjure themselves could particularly benefit from physical therapy to reduce chronic leg pain.

Kinesiophobia is a condition in which an individual has a fear of moving which results from a feeling that he/she will injure or reinjure him/herself. Research shows this fear in combination with other psychological factors can play a significant role in the development of chronic pain. A recent analysis of a randomized controlled trial assessing physical therapy outcomes of patients with sciatica showed those individuals with a fear of movement benefitted more from physical therapy at decreasing leg pain at 1- year follow up. In theory, physical therapy may decrease fear of movement and improve outcome by educating the patient, by reassuring that movement will not harm, by guidance of mobility, by enhancing functional ability and by using individualized flexibility and strength exercises.

Citation

Verwoerd A, Luijsterburg P, Koes B, Barzouhi A, Verhagen A. Does kinesiophobia modify the effects of physical therapy on outcomes in patients with sciatica in primary care? Subgroup analysis from a randomized controlled trial. Phys Ther J. 2015; 95(9): 1217-1223.

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