A biopsychosocial approach to back pain

Chronic pain support is improving with neuroscience research. Back pain often has more to do with how our brains respond to changes in the nervous system. This isn't a case of mind over matter though, back pain is a real, biological experience. Once we understand the blend of biological changes, pain, anxiety and social demands which combine to create back pain, there is a lot we can do to reduce it.

My back is killing me

How many of us have had that thought and endured the agonising pain again and again.

Coaching.care offer support to live an enjoyable life despite pain, while at the same time reducing it incrementally. .

Some people think that the biopsychosocial approach suggests back pain is psychosomatic – a combination of bad lifestyle and negative thinking? Absolutely not.

BIO stands for biological, and back pain is very much biological, even if it doesn’t show up on scans. Pain levels vary for many reasons, for example adrenaline pumping during the playing of video games. Psycho does not mean it is all in the mind. Anxiety does not cause back pain, but it can heighten it. Social? Our society's requirement that we "push through it" can amplify pain.

Systemically, the spine is affected by normal bodily changes in the nervous system, the digestive system, hormones and the immune system. Structurally, nerve, tissue, bone, joint and muscle changes, which occur throughout life, also impact the spine.

Cortisol, known as the "stress hormone", is understandably triggered by pain. Cortisol slows down the digestive system and diverts digestive oxygen to the muscles for the fight or flight system. We might then find ourselves hyper-vigilant, looking out for danger and with adrenaline levels constantly raised.

Chronic pain leads to even higher cortisol levels, which depletes energy. Cells called cytokines which are vital for immunity, then become affected, making us more vulnerable to illness.

We can see how easily the neuronal and hormonal communication between spine and brain literally sustain negative thinking and have a rhetorical effect on brain/body chemistry. Little or none of this will be revealed on the standard diagnostic procedure of MRi scans, adding to the frustration, pain and just as importantly, to social pressure. Society tells us that time off work is only justified for visibly apparent (scannable) spine problems.

The news, however, is not all negative. We do have the ability to turn these patterns around using a combination of hypnosis, anti-inflammatory diet, music and slowly progressive movement.

If you are interested in joining one of Coaching.Care's chronic pain support programs, please contact us.

Tags: back pain, chronic pain support, my back is killing me, wellbeing, back pain neuroscience, help with back pain, healing, hypherapy, manage pain, recovery