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Multidisciplinary pain treatment

By Maria Balslev Larsen & Louise Kjaer Matzen, physiotherapists of the Allevia - Interdisciplinary Pain Centre

As physiotherapists, we have long been wishing for a product that would help patients with posture-related problems. We had worked with kinesiological tape before, but now we are working with patients who have to work on their muscles in a very low pace, which is only possible for a couple of hours at a time. This created a situation where there was no proper solution for these patients. We used posture correcting elastics, but the tension at the shoulder was not optimal and the pressure in the armpit has often aggravated the neurogenic pain disorder of the patients. We are working on making our patients as self-sufficient as possible, and if they constantly have to return for the treatment to renew the tape, we are back to square one.

Our patients usually come to the Interdisciplinary Chronic Pain Centre (Moelholm), in Aarhus, DK, after they already tried out several things. With this patient group, we as physiotherapists must think in a different way. Most of them experience chronic pain, meaning that the pain remains more or less severe. When these problems get very bad, the posture also worsens. The backbone develops the tendency to collapse and many people are moving towards fetal position. This results in further damage to the already "full-term" pain-troubled body. Therefore, we use the posture-corrective clothes as an important means of training patients as well as for everyday activities. Many of them can cope with these activities even better, when proper posture frees the "energy".

The patients can borrow the posture-corrective T-shirt for a week. As the limited mobility is a major problem, the model with zipper is a great help for almost every patient with chronic pain, which helps putting on and taking off a very tight-fitting T-shirt. Most of them get accustomed to the T-shirt within a week, whereby they can wear it for many hours a day and feel pain relief, when they use exactly this T-shirt.

Many of them feel “healthier”, while their posture improves. As physiotherapists, we experienced that we can focus more on the training of the painful areas, when the posture is correct. We clearly see that posture and breathing are the most important areas for almost every patient with chronic pain. If these are out of order, as physiotherapists, we have few possibilities of helping patients with chronic pain.

Therefore, we rely on the posture-corrective T-shirt. What makes it much better than e.g., a corset, is that you can train muscles instead of fixating them. Kinesiological tape is ok, however its use is complicated for the group of patients who cannot put it on their own. As their pain is most often chronic, it does not go away easily, and they cannot wear the tape continuously. Therefore, we recommend the posture-corrective T-shirt for almost every patient, if he/she suffers from pain in shoulders, pelvis, lower back, neck or chest.