Psychological Influences on Pain Perception
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Psychological Influences on Pain Perception

How a person perceives pain, and how doctors treat it, depends upon many psychosocial factors?
Psychological Influences on Pain Perception

Among the psychological influences on pain perception include mood, gender, age, social support, expectations, and perceptions of control.

Pain is a complex process, influenced by so many different variables. And also, pain is the primary reason for seeking medical support. How a person perceives pain, and how doctors treat it, depends upon many psychosocial factors. Among the psychosocial factors that influence pain include mood, gender, age, social support, expectations, and also, perceptions of control (01).

Psychological Distress Associated With Acute Pain – A Study

Psychological factors influence a person’s perception of acute to chronic pain. Personality characteristics, such as stress tolerance and anxiety level, can also influence the perception of pain resulting in psychological distress associated with acute pain. T. W. Rodger and his research team conducted a study on this subject. They aimed to understand if alexithymia and anxiety sensitivity interact with psychological distress. They studied how an early stage of recovery from an orthopaedic injury accentuates the perception of pain intensity and also potentially mediates the development of chronic pain disorder.

Schematic of cortical areas involved with pain processing and fMRI


According to their study, 62 patients who had recently suffered from orthopaedic injury completed the British Pain Society Pain Rating Scale and also the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, which measures alexithymia and anxiety sensitivity. Pain intensity correlated with each of the psychological measures, however, regression analysis found that only depression, in combination with anxiety sensitivity, contributed to a significant amount of the variance in pain scores.

Does early screening help?

Early screening just after orthopaedic injury could identify those vulnerable to developing persisting pain disorders. Rodger (2011) believes it could lead to an effective early intervention using psychological methods of pain management. As a result, it will reduce the risk of acute pain which may evolve into a chronic pain disorder.

Check the following articles to read more about Psychological Influences on Pain Perception :
  1. Weisse. C (1997), Psychological influences on pain perception and non-pharmacologic approaches to the treatment of pain, (URL)
  2. Rodger. W, Maclean. L, Pallister. I, Psychological factors contributing to perceptions of pain intensity after acute orthopaedic injury (URL)
  3. Borsook D, Moulton EA, Schmidt KF, Becerra LR. / CC BY (URL)
  4. (URL)