Fix My Pain

Author: Jace van der Westhuizen

An emphasis on the pathoanatomical medical model is outdated. This model is where patients get beliefs that they are in pain because there is “damage” to a particular structure, or in pain because “the MRI said so”, or “my Dr told me that I have Arthritis, that’s why I’m in pain”. 

The premise of this model is that you can fix the “problem” by “putting the joint back into place”, “adjusting”, or “realigning” the perceived structure that’s at “fault”. This fixation on fixing the structural problem is understandable, as the media are constantly advertising new gimmicks that promise to fix or cure your pain if you “wear this magnetic back brace for 30 minutes a day”, or “use this special massager twice a day” etc. The media are not alone in this, some Healthcare professionals convey inaccurate information to people living with chronic pain, ill advising, or miscommunicating with them the best strategy to address their concerns.  

However, this disproportionate emphasis on “fixing the damaged the structure” via “adjustments”, “massage”, “realignments” etc. does not help the person with chronic pain. In fact, it feeds into the problem. Resulting in lowered self-efficacy, a reduced internal locus of control, increased fear avoidance, catastrophizing thoughts, and a dependence on the Healthcare Professional. 

The obsession with addressing the perceived “damage” to the structure believed to be at fault is often not well founded. Years of scientific endeavor reveal that there is a poor correlation between the findings on a scan and how much pain someone has. This poor correlation between the findings on a scan and clinical presentation, is often even more profound in individuals suffering from chronic pain.  

There is an increasing body of evidence which conclusively indicates that pain is multifactorial in nature. Psychosocial factors such as work environment, social and emotional support, loneliness, self-esteem, depressiveness, and exhaustion, all having the potential to have a significant impact on pain and disability. Furthermore, lifestyle factors such as nutrition and sleep, can also play a substantial role.   

Given the plethora of factors that contribute to pain, it makes sense that a holistic approach is adopted to optimize rehabilitation. This can only be achieved if the person consults with an empathetic Healthcare Professional that is able to bring together all the individual threads of a patient’s story and formulate a holistic management plan with them.  

All Axis Program Physiotherapists and Psychologists are experienced clinicians with an eye for detail, having the ability to identify and address barriers to the ability of an individual with chronic pain to return to the meaningful life activities, including work, and lead a more fulfilling life.  

Contact Axis for information on getting an initial assessment with our pain management team.