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Chronic Pain Management

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The Role of Occupational Therapy in Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain is pain lasting more than 6 months that is distressing and that impacts daily performance. It can affect employment, education, and social functioning. Chronic pain can be caused by injury, medical conditions, mental disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders), medications (e.g., side effects such as headache), or a somatic disorder (when there’s no known cause for the pain).

The cause of chronic pain is diagnosed by professionals such as physicians and psychologists. Various health professionals are involved in supporting people with chronic pain, such as physicians, medical specialists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, pharmacists, and psychologists. Occupational therapists are involved in helping persons with chronic pain to help them reduce the impact on their daily functioning. This could include:

  • client education about chronic pain and its management

  • improving clients’ ability to self-manage their pain

  • identifying triggers

  • developing and training strategies for improved functioning (e.g., cooking, shopping, self-care)

  • exercises to improve functioning

  • integrating recommendations from other providers (e.g., psychology, physiotherapy) into daily activities

  • supporting clients with problem solving specific challenges

  • addressing safety concerns

  • recommending adaptive equipment

  • teaching the client coping strategies




"Role of Occupational Therapy in Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management"

American Occupational Therapy Association & Alliance to Advance Comprehensive Integrative Pain Management


The Canadian Pain Society

International Association for the Study of Pain

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