Cutting Edge Psychology

English Physio treating pain psychologically

Posted on November 10, 2013 at 3:55 AM

Georgie Oldfield, an English physiotherapist, is demonstrating that the types of chronic pain which patients bring to a physio can be successfully treated with a psychological approach- with no hands on treatment at all. You know that we are on the verge of turning the tide back on chronic pain when physiotherapists are recognizing the role of psycho-social factors. My experience of working with physiotherapist in a British NHS chronic pain hospital unit a decade ago indicated to me that they were somewhat ahead of the game compared to many that i have worked with here in that they appeared very open to psycho-social factors in the causation of chronic pain. In fact, their preference was to do no hands-on treatment at all, but to utilise a psycho-educational approach in which plenty of good information and reassurance was given to their patients. This was goverened by a healthy respect for the evidence which clearly shows that no hands-on treatment has been proven effective for most cases of chronic pain; but that de-mystifying information, exploding chronic pain myths, and lots of reassurance is effective in reducing chronic pain. The only place where they fell short of the mark, in my humble opinion, is that they offer no explanation as to why the chronic pain exists (other than a highly convoluted description of the 'neuro-matrix' model). Georgie is a British physio who is rectifying this short-coming by suggesting that her patients explore psychological factors as important in the cause and maintenance of chronic pain. No doubt, she is not alone, and hopefully many other physios will catch on to this reality. I am aware of at least one chiropractor in my part of Australia who is very open to the role of psychology. I have a 24 year old son who has just completed his degree in exercise physiology- he is also aware of the role of psychology in regards to chronic pain, and hopefully he represents a new wave of physical scientists and therapists who are willing to overcome the dualism inherent in their training to address the whole human being.

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