Negative Beliefs Predict Poor Auto Injury Outcomes
Auto injuries frequently result in long-term pain or disability. However, little is known about why some injury cases become chronic while others do not. Beliefs about pain are known to be important factors in recovery. A team of researchers recently set out to explore the predictive capacity of early post-injury pain beliefs in explaining the chronicity of auto injuries.
The study involved 72 people undergoing treatment for acute auto injury pain in physical therapy or chiropractic clinics. Participants were asked about their pain attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions immediately following the injury, and at 3 and 6 months post-injury. Pain severity and self-reported disability were also recorded.
Pain expectancy beliefs were found to be negatively correlated with the intensity of pain at 6 months. Catastrophizing was also found to be predictive of continuing pain. This research provides additional support for the idea that pain expectant or avoidant thoughts and behaviors should be addressed during treatment for whiplash injuries. The cognitive-behavioral approach to pain management necessitates that cognitive factors, such as beliefs about pain, be examined soon after the injury.
This study provides support for the Fear Avoidance Model, which attempts to explain the chronicity of whiplash. According to this model, patients' experiences of pain may lead to anxiety concerning the harmfulness of the pain, causing them to fear certain movements and situations that could lead to pain. As a result, the patient begins to avoid activities that could be painful, leading to disability.
Bostick GP, et al. Predictive capacity of pain beliefs and catastrophizing in Whiplash Associated Disorder.Injury 2012: doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2012.10.007.