Publication date (electronic): 30 September 2006
Reconceptualizing chronic pain as a complex adaptive system
The biological sciences have contributed an extensive number of studies of efforts to resolve chronic pain and an expanding body of research, focusing on the psycho-social aspects of chronic pain, is now also evident. Paradigms applied to chronic pain appear to compete and lack an integrative framework. This paper builds a case for framing chronic pain within a complex adaptive systems perspective. Characteristics of complex systems are illustrated with examples from within the experience of chronic pain. It is proposed that a complexity science paradigm can serve as a meta-framework, integrating theoretical models employed in chronic pain and reframing dissent and conflict as positive generative forces for change. Interventions, based on complexity science principles, can effect change in the highly interactive systems that constitute the chronic pain experience.
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