Should I stay or should I go? When goals conflict in the context of pain

Why is it that some individuals with chronic pain stay fairly active, and others are not? Why do individuals act the way they do? One possible answer to both questions might be motivation. Imagine being an individual suffering from chronic pain. When you experience pain, it may push you to pursue or avoid activities in order to control pain or … [Read more...]

Could Virtual Reality Dodgeball motivate fear-avoidant CLBP patients to move? Implications for future treatment.

Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions health care professionals encounter. Unfortunately, despite ever increasing costs in regards to clinical management, the results remain underwhelming[1,2] giving CLBP an enigmatic nature. As a masters student I am interested in understanding how the neuromodulatory … [Read more...]

World Congress on Pain comes to you. 4: Learning Pain pt 2

Have a quick skim of the last blog post: this one follows on, as Part 2 of our synopsis of Professor Johan Vlaeyen’s plenary lecture at the World Congress on Pain... Having explained non-associative learning and Pavlovian conditioning, Prof Vlaeyen moved on to operant conditioning, a behavioural model of learning which Skinner proposed and … [Read more...]

Should I eat the bush berries or why fear generalization is adaptive

Last year, I visited Lorimer’s group in Adelaide for about 7 months. During my stay Down Under, I intended to plan as many true Aussie experiences as possible. One of them is of course Outback camping, an activity that requires refined survival skills and that one should not undertake, unless well-prepared. Packing plenty of food and water … [Read more...]

When does another’s pain catch our eye?

Imagine the following: A 5 year old girl reaches toward a hot stove. From the moment she touches the stove, she withdraws her hand and starts crying. Seeing this, her mother quickly takes action to cool down her daughter’s hand and to comfort her child. While several mechanisms may underlie the girl’s and mother’s actions, it has been argued that … [Read more...]

A new direction for the fear avoidance model

This commentary was first published in the Journal of Pain.  We thought it was worthwhile to publish it again here: Almost everyone suffers acute pain. Why do most recover, but an unfortunate few descend a downward spiral of social, personal and economic disadvantage? One hypothesis that has been interrogated for two decades is the fear … [Read more...]

No Pain No Gain? A new perspective on avoidance behavior

When you expect an activity to evoke pain, when and why you decide to avoid or persist that activity? Until recently, this question has been mainly looked at from theories emphasizing the role of pain beliefs, with lots of research demonstrating that particularly fear of pain/movement makes people often avoid activity. Ignored in these theories, … [Read more...]