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NEW STUDY: Physiotherapy works better when you believe it will help you

Article by: HealthTimes

People with shoulder pain who expect physiotherapy to help them are likely to have a better recovery than those who expect only minimal or no improvement, according to a latest study. It has also been found that people are more likely to have a better recovery if they are confident they will be able to continue doing things that are important to them.

People of all ages may experience shoulder pain and may become persistent. Injury and overuse are common causes of shoulder pain, but sometimes the cause is unclear. It can disturb sleep, interfere with work, leisure and everyday activities like washing and dressing. An effective treatment for shoulder pain is exercise prescribed by physiotherapists, however not everyone benefits from physiotherapy.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Hertfordshire, together with local physiotherapists, wanted to find out more about the characteristics of people who benefit from physiotherapy compared with those who continue to experience persistent pain and disability.

Surprise Finding

A surprising discovery was that patients who had said they expected to “completely recover” as a result of physiotherapy did even better than patients who expected to “much improve”.

The most important predictor of outcome was the person’s pain and disability at the first appointment. Higher levels of pain and disability were associated with higher levels six months later.

Lower baseline levels were associated with lower levels six months later. But this relationship often changed for people who had high “pain self-efficacy”, that is, confidence in the ability to carry on doing most things, despite having shoulder pain.

Another surprise finding was that people with high baseline pain and disability, but with high levels of pain self-efficacy did as well as, and sometimes better than, people with low baseline pain and disability and low pain self-efficacy.

If you have shoulder pain, there are several ways to increase your pain self-efficacy. Work with your physiotherapist to understand and manage your symptoms. Practice your exercises together and ask your physiotherapist for feedback, including how to adjust your exercises to make them harder or easier. Finally, make sure you discuss what you want with your physiotherapy and the activities that are important to you.

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