top of page
Blog Logo.png

massage therapy musings &
persistent pain ponderings

Understanding Persistent Pain: 3 Major Influencers

photo of three monkeys

Persistent (or chronic) pain is complex.

Typically, there's not just one contributing factor, so it's important to take broader look.

That's where the biopsychosocial model comes in. Biopsychosocial is not only a mouth-full, but can be complex as well. So let's break it down.


When we experience an injury or tissue trauma, nerves in that area send information to the brain about what happened. Pressure, temperature, stress, strain, inflammation, etc. The brain interprets that information, and often we experience pain.

Pain is a useful response. It can (or should) stop us from continuing to injure ourselves. It prompts us to get away from what is harming us or to stop lifting that heavy couch up those stairs.

However, in many cases of chronic or persistent pain, the information our nerves are sending to the brain (or the way in which the brain is interpreting that information) becomes misaligned with what is actually going on in our tissues.

It may be months after the actually injury has healed, but that area can still causes us pain. And that's why persistent pain can be like a hair-trigger alarm.

Our nervous system can become overly sensitive to certain input. So instead of a motion sensor in a car going off when you're going to hit the trashcan, maybe it goes off when a leaf dances across the lawn.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the alarm system, but the sensitivity setting may become too high.


Our emotional reactions to pain contribute to our experience of pain.

Stress and catastrophic thought patterns can contribute to a nervous system that's become increasingly hypersensitive.

Knowing about how pain works, having realistic expectations, and utilizing a variety of therapies and stress management strategies can be a path toward reducing the intensity, duration, or frequency of pain.


We are undeniably social creatures. Our environment, culture, and social expectations influence our response to pain, both acute and persistent.

What's happening around us and the people around us are inputs that the brain takes into account when determining an output (the alarm's sensitively level).

Social contexts also shape and define how we cope with pain as well, such as having a support network or access to information and tools.


Understanding Pain Article Series

Understanding Persistent Pain: 3 Major Influencers

- - -

Understanding Persistent Pain eBook

The nervous system is constantly evaluating a variety of cues and information that when combined create a pain experience. It's a complex process involving many parts of the mind and body. This guide will provide readers with a better understanding of persistent pain along with tools to reduce or manage it. learn more...

Raechel Haller Massage Therapist Holland MI Michigan

Whoa, you made it all the way down to the footer!
And might be wondering... who wrote all these words?
Well hello! My name's Raechel and I'm a massage therapist.

I enjoy researching and writing about pain and wellness; nerding out about sci-fi or Dungeons & Dragons; gardening; sailing; thoughtful conversations; loving my German Sheppard dog; and getting lost in a book. Or two. Or three.

bottom of page