Kinesiophobia is the fear of movement.  It’s not that simple, however.  What it really boils down to is a fear of the pain that movement can bring.  According to a study by Russek et al (see library) 72.9% of fibromyalgia patients are kinesiophobic.  The authors rightly understand the implications of kinesiophobia: the vicious cycle that perpetuates chronic pain, “…activity avoidance…leads to further physiological impairments such as decreased mobility, strength, and fitness; increased activity restriction reduces tolerance to activity and further compromises balance, leading to additional fear of movement.” While exploring the fear of movement in fibro patients, they also looked at functionality and determined that the people who participated in their study “report functional limitations typical of people over 75 years old.”  Their study focuses primarily on the psychological factors in this functional disability, pairing fibro with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and how vertigo psychologically increases the possibility of kinesiophobia, all of which conditions are present in many fibro patients.

The authors admit that their study cannot show which came first, kinesiophobia or fibromyalgia, and that their study has serious limitations because none of the patients were examined in person – the studies were completed by patients on line.  However, the study demonstrates strongly the most important aspect of fibromyalgia management: movement.  But not just movement, being psychologically comfortable with movement.  It is important for people to understand that pain does NOT equal injury.  We are taught from an early age that pain does indeed equal injury.  If it hurts, we kiss the boo-boo, get a band-aide, see a doctor.  For people with fibromyalgia, pain does NOT equal injury.  As soon as a person with fibromyalgia understands that, the psychological barriers against physical functionality start to come down.  When the barriers start to come down, the possibility of movement increases, and more movement ultimately means less pain, and thus the vicious cycle starts to unravel.  The pain won’t go away… fibromyalgia is not a strictly psychological phenomenon.  However, the suffering patients feel with fibromyalgia can be eased.

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