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Musculoskeletal Pain- A Biopsychosocial Approach.

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

Sunday reading for #betterhealth.


Hopefully by now, having read my blog entry “Pain and The Mature Organism” people will have a reasonable idea that solely tissue based identification of pain and dysfunction does not correlate with recent study and research findings. For a more in depth review Greg Lehman has a pain science book that you can download, totally free of charge that I will link at the bottom of the page!

According to The World Health Organisation, musculoskeletal conditions are the leading contributor to disability worldwide, with LOW BACK PAIN being the single leading cause of disability globally.

Chronic pain therefore effects societies across our entire planet; no one population is immune. However we now have a very good understanding of why an individual or subset of the population might be at risk for developing chronic musculoskeletal pain symptoms. And as with any tricky somatic sensation, pain is an extrapolation of a million connections. A “tissue-based” reductionist method of thinking is no longer accepted.

Here is a set of questions to get you started: hint (the first one is HUGE)

• Is your working life balanced, are your social and emotional needs being met? How many hours of the day do you spend slumped over a desk? Do you commute long distances?

• Do you know what brings fulfilment to your life? Example: what goals are you moving towards?

• How is your emotional well-being, do you have a well structured reliable support network?

• Is your sleep/wake cycle regulated?

• Do you eat a well balanced diet? (Preferably high in fibre and full of fruits and vegetables. Beans, legumes and whole grains are also essential).

• How often do you exercise? Do you train to the point of being breathless and do this on a consistent basis? Do you train with a partner or a friend?

Some of these questions require a practical response, potentially revamping your diet or setting a habitual pattern of sleep that works for you. However a great majority of this approach is taking your wandering attention and placing it on the positive in your life. Putting in real TIME AND EFFORT to develop your tribe and if you were to take my advice this tribe would drive you to be fitter and healthier! Running clubs, gym communities, dance classes, climbing centres, Yoga and Pilates the list is endless. Time and again within practise I have driven people from a state of pain and dysfunction into regular, socially engaging exercise. Low and behold, pain levels drop considerably and people are back doing something that they love.

Research proves that our planets healthiest people are the ones with the closest knit communities. These societies also happen to be geared up to be heavily biased towards a plant-based diet*, but that is another discussion. And one Arnold Schwarzenegger is now fighting for me, see The Game Changers movie.

As people and as healthcare practitioners we need to move away from reductionist thinking. We need to galvanise our communities, give social prescriptions, drive people towards movement and build referral sources when appropriate.

Could the answer to our aches and pains lie within our community?* I wouldn't bet against it..

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