Reducing fear of pain and movement

Fear of movement and activities is common in people with knee cap pain.  But “fear” in the context of pain may not be exactly what you might think.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you have nightmares about squatting (although it could!). It can be as simple as avoiding the stairs at work because you are worried you might make your knee worse.  Or even changing the way you get out of a chair to avoid causing pain.  Although they can be small, these fears can be enough to amplify or make your pain persist.  Conversely, some studies have shown that reductions in fear of movement are related with reductions in knee pain.

We know that understanding your knee and why it hurts is one of the best ways to reduce pain related fear.  In particular, understanding that pain is only an alarm and does not equal harm, and that exercise and using your knee is part of the solution.  Graded exposure to tasks you may be worried about is another effective way to improve pain related fear.

If you are currently not confident in walking stairs, you may find the following infographic helpful.


Supporting articles

Domenech 2014. Changes in catastrophizing and kinesiophobia are predictive of changes in disability and painafter treatment in patients with anterior knee pain.