I talk a lot about the other factors for pain and health besides the obvious physical things that we normally associate with pain and health. One model of health is the biopsychosocial model. This model basically says that biology, psychology, and sociology can all interact with each other and affect each other and affect pain and our health in ways that we wouldn’t think possible. It may look something like this.
We never know exactly how or how much each is contributing. And, these things can change over time even day to day. But, knowing that not everything is caused only by physical issues, especially structural issues, can allow us to see how complex pain can be and offer insight when things aren’t getting better when we think they should.
Today, while driving in the car I heard an interesting story on NPR which highlighted the complexity of pain and health. Researchers wondered if programs like Make A Wish were helpful beyond just making kids feel better for a bit. These programs raise money to grant wishes to kids with serious illnesses or diseases. They and their families might go to Disney World or meet a celebrity that they admire. Whatever they choose.
Researchers looked at over 1000 kids with these serious illnesses. Half had gotten a wish, the other half didn’t. The results were mind boggling. After the wish they followed both groups. The group with wishes granted had much fewer rehospitalizations, fewer doctors visits, and spent a lot less money for healthcare on average than the other group. They actually in many cases saved enough money from reduced healthcare to pay for the wish and then some.
Here is a link to the story.
The lead researcher did not know exactly why this happened. But, understanding the power of psychology and sociology to health may give us some insight. People with hope. With something to look forward to. With fun and joy and wonder in their life. People living a bit better can have powerful effects. So many people living with pain or major health issues have lost this. They spend all of their time going to doctors. Recovering from surgery. Looking for answers. Many people I work with say “When this is over with I will or I want to……” They have life put on hold. Maybe giving a kid a wish gets them unstuck for a while and it helps.
I think we can learn from this. Saying pain or health are biopsychosocial in nature doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong or damaged or broken. It does mean that other things can happen that make the damaged or broken thing have more or less of an affect on you and your body. Not all of us can get granted a wish. But, we can figure out ways to get more into our lives when we have pain or other health issues. Do things we enjoy. Get together with people we love. Find wonder and joy, even when things aren’t working like we planned. Our medical system doesn’t talk about much past the injury or illness. Sometimes we just need to try to be human and live our lives more like we want.
If you are having issues with pain or injury and not sure what to do, drop a comment call us at 970-949-9966 or ascent-pt.com.