AbstractBackgroundResearch has emphasised the essential role of psychosocial risk factors in chronic pain. In practice, pain is usually verified by identifying its physical cause. In patients without any distinct pathology, pain is easily defined as imaginary pain. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the invisibility of chronic pain, from the patients’ perspective.MethodsThirty-four participants with chronic pain were interviewed. The mean age of the participants was 48 years, and 19 of them were women. For 21 of the participants, the duration of pain was more than five years, and most of the participants had degenerative spinal pain. The transcribed interviews were analysed using Giorgi’s four-phase phenomenological method.ResultsThe participants’ chronic pain was not necessarily believed by health care providers because of no identified pathology. The usual statements made by health care providers and family members indicated speculation, underrating, and denial of pain. The participants reported experience of feeling that they had been rejected by the health care and social security system, and this feeling had contributed to additional unnecessary mental health problems for the participants.As a result from the interviews, subthemes such as “Being disbelieved”, “Adolescents’ pain is also disbelieved”, “Denying pain”, “Underrating symptoms”, “The pain is in your head”, “Second-class citizen”, “Lazy pain patient”, and “False beliefs demand passivity” were identified.ConclusionsIn health care, pain without any obvious pathology may be considered to be imaginary pain. Despite the recommendations, to see chronic pain as a biopsychosocial experience, chronic pain is still regarded as a symptom of an underlying disease. Although the holistic approach is well known and recommended, it is applied too sparsely in clinical practice.ImplicationsThe Cartesian legacy, keeping the mind and body apart, lives strong in treatment of chronic pain despite recommendations. The biopsychosocial approach seems to be rhetoric.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 2015
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