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3 factors that influence pain: body, mind and environment

Chronic pain is nowadays seen as a problem in which many factors can play a role. Good practitioners therefore work together in teams where professionals from different backgrounds work together and do not only focus on their own area of expertise. 

The model that practitioners work with is called the 'biopsychosocial' model. This means that a practitioner or treatment team takes biological, psychological and social factors into account. By learning to recognise them yourself, you can assess where you still have treatment options!


You could say that the 'biology' part of the model mainly looks at the body. This will usually be done by one or more doctors. It is examined whether there is damage and whether the pain can be (partly) explained by physical causes. 

In terms of treatment, mainly medication is prescribed, or operations can be carried out. Or other medical devices are used, which are sometimes placed in the body. 

Another part of biology is improving the condition of your body itself. For example, by training or losing weight.


The 'psychology' section is broad. Thinking, doing, feeling and attention are part of this. It is therefore not the case that only a psychologist is involved. Usually a doctor or physiotherapist will be the first person to see what adjustments you can make in life. Or who, together with you, looks at how you can improve your pain in other ways.

Treatments in which psychological factors play a role are mainly aimed at how you can make adjustments in life yourself. It's all about motivation, and how you use the motivation to change certain patterns in life. Learning about pain plays an important role in this!

Usually there is a lot of space here. It is customary to first look at biological factors in case of prolonged pain. However, it often happens (unfortunately) that there is too little focus on change in life when a medical approach does not work.

Social environment

There are many social factors that play a role in pain. Do you get support, how does your partner react to your pain, how does the environment deal with it? The social environment can help enormously with pain problems, but can also (unconsciously) maintain it. For example, I often see that partners take over (too) many tasks from someone with pain. But also whether someone has work, and what kind of work that is, has a lot of influence on pain.

Although there are often gains to be made here, there is often very little attention paid to social factors in pain treatments. During a pain treatment a person can experience a lot of help and support from practitioners and possibly fellow sufferers, which disappears when the treatment is finished.