Home > Plan of Care > Chiropractic Care > Pain Does Not Equal Tissue Damage

Pain Does Not Equal Tissue Damage

The outdated biomedical model talks of pain and tissue damage being intimately related. The biomedical model has been replaced by the biopsychosocial model which acknowledges pain as an experience independent of physical damage. The biopsychosocial model takes into account life experience wherein lies meaning and in meaning is sickness or health. Pain is defined as a sensory emotional experience.

The social interactions in our life, the concepts we hold, the narratives we grow up into, the workplace that contains us, and the friends, family and colleagues who influence us, can affect our sensory emotional experience. If you are interested in psychological harm see here and if you are interested in what moral injury is please see here. Severe back pain for example does not need to be caused by a disc. Disc prolapses and bony degeneration occur commonly (1) in those over 20, unrelated to a pain experience.




The Four Aspects of pain

Shown above can help guide one through a process of MSK improvement, instead of holding an expectation of a light switch effect from chiropractic treatment on your pain. As you improve in your muscles and joints the improvement may only be seen in one of the 4 aspects above, at first. Change is more of a grey transition experience than an on/off light switch one.


Slow Responder

When your symptoms are slow to respond to Chiropractic Care, the pain you feel may be a compensatory pain, which is why the first three weeks of Care are the most important in which to follow your Chiropractors advice.

For a few unlucky people pain can be amplified at the spinal cord causing central sensitisation. Typically here prognosis is not as good and the timeline to recovery will be months and not weeks.


Social Pain

Can be felt when we for example get given the silent treatment. Social pain is found in the same part of the brain that physical injury and emotional pain reside. Social pain is also known as the suffering part of pain and suffering. Typically the Anterior Cingulate Cortex can be cut out in a procedure called a Cingulotomy after which people still report having pain but are not bothered by it. Therefore we are equipped socially to help each other with individual suffering.



  1. Brinjikji P.H. et al (2014) Systematic Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations. Am J Neuroradiol 10.3174/ajnr.A4173

%d bloggers like this: