Occupational therapists may find pain management less effective than anticipated for the patient’s condition. In exploring additional avenues of relief, it is important to look beyond physical agents. The therapist must sort physical, psychological, and spiritual components of pain to provide appropriate intervention or referral.The interface between health care and religion is strongest at the point of confrontation with a life-changing event. Literature addressing the relationship between religious orientation and pain perception differentiates among major religions but not among differences in beliefs of diverse denominational groups. Understanding beliefs about pain may be indispensable to its effective management.Productivity demands necessitate sensitivity to factors other than the physical in order to avoid ineffective treatment. The patient’s beliefs can be explored within the contexts of initial evaluation and the course of treatment. Knowledge of the mechanics of pain and treatment modalities can be augmented by awareness of the influence of beliefs on response to treatment.
Chronic pain is common among individuals with physical disabilities. It can interfere with therapy since patients with chronic pain can become uncooperative and reluctant to move. In some cases, patients may even project their discomfort onto the therapist. This paper reviews the natural physiological mechanisms that can reduce pain perception. The occupational therapist can help facilitate the activation of these mechanisms through a combination of noninvasive modalities, functional activities, and the therapeutic use of self.