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Physiotherapy Works When You Believe It Helps

When you think about the phrase ‘mind over matter’, what do you imagine? Is it lifting that extra weight at the gym even when they said you couldn’t? Is it walking over hot coals without a suggestion of pain on your expression? Or is it the placebo effect that has been shown in countless studies across multiple specialisations?

For most people, mind over matter describes the ability of willpower to overcome physical problems. It shows that our thoughts greatly shape our reality. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine considered how our beliefs about physiotherapy treatment shaped outcomes. The findings were surprising. Read on to learn what they found.
Shoulder pain is a common condition treated by physiotherapists. It affects people of all ages and activity levels and can be painful and debilitating if the pain is persistent. Not only can it cause discomfort, but it can also disturb sleep and interfere with your ability to complete daily tasks.
Physiotherapists are experts in the musculoskeletal system and use various treatments to help patients reduce pain and enhance mobility. But why don’t all patients have the same outcomes? Researchers from the University of East Anglia and the University of Hertfordshire partnered with local physios to explore this exact question. They wanted to compare the characteristics of people who benefit from physio treatment and patients that experience ongoing symptoms.
There were 1030 participants in the study from across the East of England. Seventy-one characteristics of the participants were considered, including their age, lifestyle, and medical history. They were also asked about their beliefs around the efficacy of the treatment; did they expect to recover, slightly improve, or see no change fully? Six months later, 811 of the participants provided information about their shoulder pain and function.
Patients that said they expected to recover fully had much better outcomes than patients that expected much improvement. The participants that had higher levels of pain and disability were more likely to still have high levels of pain and disability after the six months. However, this changed for people with high pain self-efficacy, meaning they had confidence and belief they could proceed with normal activity despite having a shoulder condition.
Moreover, people with higher starting pain and disability but high self-efficacy typically had better outcomes than people with lower pain and poor self-efficacy. This demonstrates that your belief in your ability to overcome pain and improve from treatment greatly determines your treatment outcomes despite the physical condition.
This study was the first of its kind but was supported by previous research into neck and back pain which also concluded that patients who have high expectations of their recovery from orthopaedic surgery often recover better than those that are fearful or sceptical of the surgery’s success. Other research studies also show that people with higher self-efficacy also have better outcomes for various health conditions.
Ultimately, the study confirms that our thoughts and beliefs are very powerful and can contribute to our body’s ability to recover. Is the phrase mind over matter true? Perhaps this study confirms so.
Book a Physio Appointment

People experiencing shoulder pain can benefit from physiotherapy treatment and ongoing care. Book your appointment at Northern Districts Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic with one of our friendly and experienced practitioners today.


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Northern Districts Physiotherapy

Northern Districts Physiotherapy & Sports Clinic was established in 1995 and consists of an energetic team of highly qualified and experienced professionals who take the time to understand ...


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