A new observational study has revealed that physio for shoulder pain works better when patients believe that it will help. Carried out by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire and the University of East Anglia, the results of the study highlight just how powerful the mind can be at helping the body to heal.
Here, we’ll look at the findings of the study and how self-belief and positivity can potentially help to ease shoulder pain.
Understanding the study
In the first study of its kind, researchers followed over 1000 patients who were undergoing physiotherapy for shoulder pain. All of the patients were receiving physiotherapy at 11 NHS trusts, along with social enterprises throughout East England.
The team analysed 71 different patient characteristics and clinical findings before and during their first physiotherapy session. Then, they assessed follow up information provided by 811 patients six months after. It was discovered through the follow up information provided, that the majority of patients experienced improvement through physiotherapy.
The results revealed that those who experienced a higher level of pain and disability at the start, also experienced higher levels within six months than those who had a lower level of pain. However, the most surprising finding was that those who believed physiotherapy would work, experienced more significant improvements.
The more positive you are, the better you’ll heal
The study found that the more positive patients are about the effectiveness of physiotherapy, the better they healed within six months. For example, those who thought they would fully recover after physiotherapy, healed better than those who thought they would see the pain much improve.
They also discovered that although those with a higher level of pain and disability at the start had higher levels six months on, those who had the confidence to do things despite their pain generally experienced better results. In fact, through self-belief, some patients with a higher baseline of disability and pain experienced better results than those with low baselines levels.
The study follows on from previous research which has revealed that a patient’s expectation of recovery could predict the outcome of physiotherapy for neck and back pain, as well as orthopaedic surgery.
Could the findings help patients avoid surgery?
So, if self-belief can significantly improve shoulder pain and enhance the effectiveness of physiotherapy, does this mean that patients could avoid surgery? It would largely depend upon the type of injury sustained. Significant injuries are still likely to require surgery is physiotherapy isn’t working.
Physiotherapy does tend to be the first treatment option for shoulder pain and for patients that do not respond to conservative approaches, shoulder surgery is often the best option to reduce pain and increase mobility.
If you are concerned about your shoulder pain, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible. There are lots of different causes of shoulder pain so getting a proper diagnosis is key. Book a consultation with a shoulder specialist today to determine the cause and best course of treatment for your shoulder pain.