Dr Sonia Ranelli

Pain physiotherapist, researcher, senior lecturer and PhD, with expertise in upper-limb pain.

Among our most distinguished team members, Dr Sonia Ranelli established her reputation internationally providing world-first data with her doctorial research. She's since been published in some of the world's leading medical journals and delivered presentations, including keynote speeches, around the world.

We are incredibly fortunate to have Sonia on the Painless team, working one-on-one with patients experiencing persistent upper-limb (shoulder, arm and hand) pain, CRPS and inflammatory arthritis.

MY APPROACH

Every person is unique.

"I want to make a difference in the life of every person who comes to see me – to help them better understand their pain and the tools they can use to solve it. It is very rewarding to work alongside a client with pain. To help them set and achieve their goals."

My areas of expertise

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Upper limb pain (shoulder, arm and hand)

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Complex regional pain syndrome

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Inflammatory arthritis

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Functional movement

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Patient education

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Graded motor imagery

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Myofascial release therapy

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And more...

Experience

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25+ years physiotherapy experience

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25+ years in multidisciplinary practice

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20+ years pain physiotherapy experience

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15+ years pain research

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10+ years teaching physiotherapy

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Member of the International Editorial Board for the Hand Therapy Journal.

My Story

My passion and mantra – professionally and personally – is “prevention is better than cure”. It was with this perspective that I found myself drawn to the field of physiotherapy. I wanted to help people care for their body’s and live full lives unhindered by pain. While completing my studies – first, here in Australia and then at Oxford University in the UK – I found myself drawn to the science of pain. Persistent pain in particular. I noticed that, for many of my patients, pain was the greatest obstacle to their quality of life. It was what prevented them from doing the things they loved and experiencing life to the fullest.

Alongside my passion for pain care, I’ve also always been a passionate musician. I’ve both witnessed and experienced the value creative outlets can bring to an individual’s life. Being connected with many musicians, I quickly found myself treating instrumentalists experiencing upper-limb pain – pain that, sadly, held them back from their music. I found it so rewarding to help these musicians overcome their pain that I choose this field as the focus of my doctorial research.

I began studying and publishing research on young musicians with chronic upper limb pain. Subsequently, I’ve also taken special interest in complex regional pain syndrome and undertaken translational research in rheumatoid arthritis and persistent musculoskeletal pain. I’m privileged to have had my research published in some of the world’s leading physiotherapy journals and have delivered keynote presentations at conferences all around the world.

Throughout my research, I continued to work one-on-one with patients – both in hospital settings and private practice. I am now also very proud to be a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University’s School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science where I teach musculoskeletal physiotherapy and pain science.

My Approach

When prevention isn’t possible – when we’re faced with persistent pain or illness – it’s often challenging to understand what has brought us here. We now know from research that the experience of pain is far more complex than any injury that may have triggered it. It’s the sum of many variables in a person’s life. Biological, psychological and social variables. This is especially the case for persistent – or chronic – pain. And so, it only makes sense that when pain has many causes, it must be treated from many angles.

At Painless, I’m fortunate to be able to work alongside many other health professionals to deliver pain care that truly does address the pain from every angle. The road to recovery can be hard and as a physiotherapist, I travel alongside each and every one of my patients. But when they come out on the other side, it’s always worth it. This is the difference I want to make in the world; to help people with pain return to full and happy lives.

Qualifications

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Bachelor of Physiotherapy, BSc, 1993

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Master of Science in Evidence Based Health Care from Oxford University, MSc, 2001

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Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Problems in Children Learning Instrumental Music – Prevalence and Associated Risk Factors (Doctorate), PhD, 2012

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Endeavour Fellowship in 2016.

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