From Our Expert Physio: How the biopsychosocial model is returning control of back pain to the individual

From Our Expert Physio: How the biopsychosocial model is returning control of back pain to the individual

By Chris Aldred

People with back pain may not have heard of the term biopsychosocial (BPS) but it’s an important and widely followed approach to the health of an individual. When it comes to physiotherapists like ourselves dealing with back pain patients, following the BPS model helps us all achieve our priority of helping our patients get better and enabling them to gain a sense of control over their back pain.

What does biopsychosocial mean?

The biopsychosocial (BPS) model takes the view that the health of an individual can be attributed to a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Biological factors are those such as genetics and biochemistry; psychological factors are things like mood, personality and behaviour; and social factors are cultural, familial, socioeconomic and medical.

This holistic approach offers an alternative view to the traditional biomedical model, which implicates purely biological factors such as genes and viruses in the poor health of an individual. BPS considers lifestyle and other factors alongside biological causes as a contributing factor to health-related issues. It gives more weight to the social and psychological influences on each person’s health today, while retaining the biological elements.

The BPS approach encourages treatment of patients as individuals with a unique set of contributing factors to their condition, rather than as one of many with the same health problems.

How does it apply to back pain?

Medical and health science is not an exact science (which is perhaps why most back pain is described as ‘non-specific’); after all, we can’t see through our skin and there are not many diagnostic scans that can show real time events within the body. We use evidence from scientific experiments and clinical experience to formulate what is, at best, a best guess. The more we examine the evidence and the more experience we obtain, the better our guess. There is no such thing as ‘the one right way’ when it comes to human body, but what we are looking for is what we believe to be ‘the most effective way’ that we can treat our patients.

I have been in the physiotherapy profession for 22 years. I’ve had great success with my lower back treatments and have fervently studied the literature on lower back pain. The most effective treatment I have found is to give the patient as much control as I possibly can.

The biopsychosocial movement seeks to achieve just that. They are making some wonderful advances forward in the treatment of the lower back through understanding the emotions behind pain and arming the patients with thought-patterning to be better equipped to deal with their pain. I am completely on board with anything that gives my patients a greater feeling of control.

So how about Pelvipro?

As a specialist MSK physio, my contribution to empowering back pain patients and centralising their locus of control – the extent to which they believe they can control their life – is to put a device in their hands that will help regulate the patterns of movement around their lumbo-pelvic-femoral region.

For such patients, using Pelvipro means they have more confidence to live their everyday life as they wish and they have an answer on-hand 24/7.  I am an asthma sufferer and I feel my Salbutamol inhaler does the same thing. I have never been hindered in my everyday life. When playing football, which I love to do, if I get wheezy I can use my inhaler and it enables me continue what I’m doing.

This was our primary objective when it came to Pelvipro: to help back pain sufferers lead a normal routine, do the activities they love, and enjoy their lives. Physically, Pelvipro means they’re strengthening and conditioning, and psychologically they have more control – and the benefits that come with this are clear for themselves and their families and friends.

A desire to help my patients was the starting point for Pelvipro and I firmly believe in the treatment because I’ve seen the difference it has made to their lives. I’ve based my approach on  my interpretation of scientific literature, clinical experience and results of our trials.

From Our Expert Physio is a series of blogs by physiotherapist and Pelvipro inventor Chris Aldred.

Chris has his own physiotherapy practice in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Read more about his background here.

Chris also works alongside 20 other physiotherapists in a network throughout the UK who use Pelvipro to complement physiotherapy in back pain patients. He is always on the lookout for therapists and trainers who can teach people with lower back pain how to most effectively use Pelvipro. If you are interested please get in touch.

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