Can my thoughts really affect my pain?

Biopsychosocial model? Are my thoughts affecting my pain?

Biomedical (BM) approach to pain? Biopsychosocial (BPS) approach to pain? What’s the difference?

Have you ever been to the doctor where they have no explanation for the disease, but can prescribe medications for symptoms? This is the biomedical model. It is a traditional model, is focused on discovering a pathology rather than understanding an illness. Imagine it as a lock and key model- based on symptoms (lock) a proper key (diagnosis) is given. Though this has made a significant change in our healthcare, it leaves out an important part about personal health- our psychological and social standing as patients.

Here comes the BPS model. The BPS model is a model that takes into account not only biological, or physiological pathology, but also the psychosocial aspect of your life and how that relates to your medical condition.  Lets break this down a bit for ease

-Biological: Bone, tissue, ligament, fascia issue

-Psychological: how thoughts and/or emotions, such as fear or stress, can play a role in the medical condition

-Social: involvement in work for socio-economic, ability to perform your hobbies/activities, family circumstances and events, or cultural factors

Based on the growing non-infectious chronic conditions, such as low back pain and neck pain, BPS model has been gaining a lot of hype in the world of Physical Therapy. As early as 2006 using data received in 1998-99, a study was conducted about BM vs. BPS with acute low back injuries and returning to work. After a 2-year follow up, 60% of the BPS group required no sick time off vs 10% of the BM group. The difference? The BPS group had relaxation sessions and education about pain, as well as education handling stress during certain situations. (1) Remember, this was pertinent for their pain- there may be other pathologies where education and stress management does not have such outstanding effects.

Another way the BPS model has shown clinically significant results is with clinician empathy and positive attitude. (2) As clinicians, it is our responsibility to help aide the psychosocial aspect as well as the biological aspect to maximize recovery!

Teaching you today what you need to know tomorrow!




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