The Role of Meaning in Chronic Pain

In a previous article we have seen that the treatment of chronic pain should be bio-psychosocial in nature, which means that the psychological and social issues should be addressed at the same time as the medical issues. Most pain experts believe that this needs to take place for recovery to occur.

We then considered the importance of acceptance in chronic disease, which helps you recognize that you need to make certain lifestyle changes because of chronic disease. This can only be done once you know what you are agreeing to or accepting. Chronic pain is not merely the persistence of pain symptoms, it is a disease or disorder in its own right, and we can see brain changes on special imaging scans such as fMRI.

Why would meaning be so important?

For two reasons, because it is hard to plan when you do not know what you are up against, and, in order to know what you are to accept, you must have a clear idea of what you are buying into. As important as the above is that once we understand the “why’ of something, the ‘how to’ (or how to deal with it) becomes more obvious and easier to address. Meaning also affects our motivation level, and ultimately our resilience, and our ability to persist with our efforts. History is filled with people who did amazing things through their commitment against all odds, based on the meaning and value that they placed on their quest or goal.

Now the following challenges remain. 

What is chronic pain? 

And what does it mean to you?

This will be outlined in another posting.

photo credit: Erik Aquino