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The social determinants of pain: from body work to social work 

The social determinants of pain: from body work to social work
The social determinants of pain: from body work to social work

Jens Foell

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date: 05 March 2021

This chapter explores musculoskeletal pain in the community and will consider questions relating to its commonality, its consequences, its prevention, its distribution, and the way it is addressed by health and welfare systems. The focus in this chapter is on the ‘social’ in what is widely known as the ‘biopsychosocial’ model of pain. It explores the social determinants of chronic pain and presents a case that these ‘social’ factors deserve much greater attention in the therapeutic encounter than is usually assumed. Sociosomatic medicine (that is the relationship between the body and the society in which the body is living) is the topic of this chapter; this is distinct from psychosomatic medicine. This chapter will go some way towards addressing why the medicalization of musculoskeletal pain is so problematic. In particular, it will outline why this approach, however seductive its appeal, serves neither patients nor doctors well.

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