2. Address any anxiety and fear
Really understanding a patient’s perspective on their pain and injury takes time. Any anxiety and fear linked to their pain needs to be addressed. Oftentimes a patient will not acknowledge that there is any fear or anxiety, especially with direct questioning. Most of the times, it has to be inferred from assessing them as they perform movement or their reaction to the elicitation of pain as the physiotherapy session progresses. As trust is established between therapist and patient, a patient is more willing to acknowledge that certain aspects of their pain creates stress and anxiety. It is important to address anxiety by equipping patients with strategies for success between treatment sessions. Strategies for patients to own their problem typically reduces anxiety about their pain and helps them overcome it more effectively.
In addition, as a therapist, we have our own relationship to physical pain due to our past injuries and pain experiences. It is also imperative that we address our own experiences with pain, including addressing any anxiety and fear we have with these experiences and use that as an opportunity to both be able to empathise as well as learn to overcome our own pain experience effectively. Our own relationship with pain affects our ability to affect our patients’ relationship with their pain, whether we like it or not. It is an opportunity for growth and learning, learning to overcome my own experiences of pain, helped me be a better therapist.
Hence addressing anxiety and fear linked to pain experiences for both yourself as the therapist and for the patient is paramount in allowing flow to happen.