History has long presented a dominating Medical Model of Health since the 18th Century, and the idea that science could cure all illness and disease has remained a core element of modern medicine. The Medical Model of Health measures health simply by determining if a disease is present or not (Community Development and Heath Network 2018). However, this underlying emphasis on the absence of disease as an indicator of good health ignores the power of other important influences, leaving no room for the social, psychological, and behavioural dimensions of illness (Farre & Rapley 2017).
Developed in 1977 by psychiatrist George Engel, the Biopsychosocial Model of Health instead recognises that many factors affect health. This model acknowledges that deep interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors lead to outcomes of wellness and disease (Community Development and Health Network 2018).
Pain Prevalence in Australia
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 3 (6.9 million) Australians suffer from arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain and osteoporosis, making musculoskeletal conditions the fourth leading contributor to the total disease burden in Australia (AIHW 2018).
Specifically speaking, more than 4 million Australians struggle with back pain on a daily basis, the majority of whom report that the pain interferes with their basic activities of daily living (AIHW 2019). When pain lingers, it can significantly compromise our quality of life by causing us physiological pain and disability as well as psychological distress – suffering we don’t want and can’t afford.
And with an estimation that 70–90% of Australians will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives, (AIHW 2019) optimisation of treatment and management of this pain is critical.
The Biopsychosocial Model of Pain Management
When applied to the issue of pain, the Biopsychosocial Model of Health implies that pain cannot simply be seen as a physical experience, but as a social and psychological experience also (Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2018). Furthermore, treating pain should not solely focus on medications used to relieve physical pain, but on treatments that effect the holistic and interrelated experience of pain physically, psychologically and socially.
Drug-Free Pain Relief
While analgesia (pain medication) will always have its place in pain relief, drug-free pain relief is a vast and varied subject worthy of exploration. A common theme behind many alternative complementary therapies is the concept of the mind-body connection, recognising wellness on a multi-dimensional and holistic level, and providing remedies responsive to this understanding (Discover the Power of Drug Free Pain Relief 2018).
Drug-Free Pain Relief for Low Back Pain
When it comes to alternate and drug-free pain relief, a recently released E-Book titled, Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2019 (2018), discusses 100 of the latest life-changing drug-free pain relief developments, including;
- Physical Movement Therapies
- Dietary Medicine
- Mind-Body Treatments
- Energy Healing
- Electrical Therapies
- Environmental Therapies
Physical Movement Therapies including staying active (while of course avoiding aggravating movements) and practicing Pilates have been shown to provide relief for lower back pain.
The focus on core strength and correct posture is key, as strong abdominal muscles support the lower back and can assist in decreasing strain on joints and discs (Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2018). A similar focus on core strength, posture and flexibility in the practice of Yoga and Thai Chi have also shown to be beneficial in the relief of lower back pain, joint pain and fibromyalgia (Discover the Power of Drug-Free Pain Relief 2018).
Spinal Decompression Therapy (following assessment by a qualified medical professional) is also commonly used in the treatment of slipped discs, pinched nerves, bulging or herniated and worn discs.
As this is such a vast and varied area, our look into Drug-Free Relief of Pain with a focus on low back pain will continue in our next article which will focus on Dietary Medicine, Mind-Body Treatments and Electrical Therapies.
- Models of Health – Medical Model – (Community Development and Heath Network 2018). https://www.cdhn.org/sites/default/files/downloads/FACTSHEETS%201_Screen%20View%281%29.pdf
- Farre & Rapley 2017 – The New Old (and Old New) Medical Model: Four Decades Navigating the Biomedical and Psychosocial Understandings of Health and Illness https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5746722/
- World Health Organisation Definition of Health https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/frequently-asked-questions
- Australia’s Health 2018: in brief https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/fe037cf1-0cd0-4663-a8c0-67cd09b1f30c/aihw-aus-222.pdf.aspx?inline=true
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Back Problems 2019 https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/contents/how-do-back-problems-affect-quality-of-life