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  • The Hidden Reason Your Pain Isn’t Getting Better

    chronic painPain is a really complicated topic, and there’s a lot we don’t know about it. There are books and conferences dedicated to the subject. There is a ton of research being done trying to figure out what causes it, what makes it better, what makes it worse, and how we might be able to predict pain and its outcome. I’m not going into any of that today.

    A New Way to Think About Pain

    Today, I want to talk about a few hidden reasons that your pain may not be getting better despite all the doctor and physical therapy visits, medications, and complementary therapies you receive. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not your desk, your chair, or even your posture.

    The hidden reasons I’m talking about are part of the biopsychosocial model of pain. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it. Luckily you don’t need to be able to pronounce it, in order to understand it.

    Let me break it down for you:

    Bio = biological factors like genetics, body chemistry, etc. Psycho = mood, personality, behavior, etc. Social = culture, family, socioeconomic factors, availability of medical treatments in your area, insurance coverage, etc.

    So here are a few of those biopsychosocial factors that could be keeping you in an unbreakable cycle of pain:

    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Fear
    • Stress (physical, mental, emotional)
    • Trauma
    • PTSD
    • Genetic factors
    • Ruminating (Focusing your attention on your pain, or any negative thing – here’s a great article on ruminating)
    • Catastrophizing (believing that something is far worse than it actually is – here’s a great article on catastrophizing)
    • Lack of support
    • Poor/limited/no Insurance coverage
    • Limited access to healthcare providers
    • Loneliness
    • Hostility  – your hostility toward your pain, other’s hostility toward you because of the effect your pain has on your ability to spend time with or interact with them

    There are many, many more but these are some of the most common ones. (Here’s a great article on the biopsychosocial model of pain if you want a more in-depth explanation)

    If you recognize any of these factors in your life and you have chronic pain, know that you’re not alone. There are over 100 million Americans with chronic pain, and these are the most common reasons that they don’t get better. Some of these factors are easier to address than others and a few may be difficult or impossible to improve.  Either way, if you address and improve the ones you can, you’ll find your pain improves as well. That may mean seeing a therapist, a genetic counselor, or any number of other providers, but you’ll find that it’s well worth it.