- Staying Ahead of the Pain: Biopsychosocial Approach
Staying Ahead of the Pain: Biopsychosocial Approach
Pain acts like the senses and like all sense it has an intended purpose. Pain acts as an ‘alarm’ to alert the body to injury.2
Unlike the other senses, the perception of pain is not just a physical process that results in a reaction. It also requires our brain to make a connection and learn what is happening and how we are feeling.2
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have shown that many parts of the brain are active when someone experiences pain.2 These parts of the brain are also involved in processing emotions and behaviour.2
Biological, psychological and social considerations<sup>1</sup>
The biological aspect
There may be changes in strength, range of motion and stability of the joint or limb as a result of experiencing pain from an injury that has occurred.2
‘Guarding’ behaviours such as limping, bracing or protecting a part of the body that has been injured, to avoid pain, can cause changes to physical functioning. They also have the potential to cause disability.2
The psychological aspect
Everyday challenges that the person with persistent pain have to cope with can leave them feeling helpless, worthless and hopeless.2 Fear and anxiety are often experienced and can lead to a vicious cycle of doing less and less activity over time.2
Those living with persistent pain can also have a higher risk of depression compared to those without pain.2 This can make it more difficult to manage the pain.
The social aspect
A person’s home life, their relationships, their financial standing, sense of community and culture, general lifestyle, work and general life stresses can have an impact on how they experience pain.2
Though social factors are often less recognised, when pain progresses, it is a result of the combination of the social, psychological and physical factors.2
The impact of persistent pain
A whole person approach to pain management
To be able to address the many contributing factors of pain and use a biopsychosocial approach to pain management, getting help from a variety of health professionals may be helpful.2
Pain is not a simple affliction of one body system; it is a multifactorial condition. To manage pain successfully, a holistic approach taking into consideration the biopsychosocial factors, can continue to bring meaning and purpose back to your life again and live a good quality of life despite pain.
- Duenas, M., et al. A review of chronic pain impact on patients, their social environment and the health care system. J Pain Res. 2016; 9: 457–467.
- Breeden, K et al. A Biopsychosocial Approach for Addressing Chronic Pain in Everyday Occupational Therapy Practice. (2017). OT Practice, 22(13)
- Ojeda, B., Salazar, A., Dueñas, M., Torres, L. M., Micó, J. A., & Failde, I. (2014). The impact of chronic pain: The perspective of patients, relatives, and caregivers. Families, Systems & Health: Journal Of Collaborative Family Healthcare, 32, 399–407
- Ehde, D. M., Dillworth, T. M., & Turner, J. A. (2014). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for individuals with chronic pain. American Psychologist, 69, 153–166.
- Khusid, M. A., & Vythilingam, M. (2016). The emerging role of mindfulness meditation as effective self-management strategy, part 2: Clinical implications for chronic pain, substance misuse, and insomnia. Military Medicine, 181, 969–975.