Rehabilitation treatment is frequently carried out in accordance with the so-called biopsychosocial model of pain. Physical causes and/or diseases accompanied by pain cannot, in themselves, explain chronic pain. Chronic pain often goes together with the deterioration of a patient's daily functioning, worsening of his mood, and little support or understanding from his direct surroundings. Moreover, chronic pain can have negative consequences on the quality of life and general well being of a patient.
Within the biopsychosocial model of pain, it is believed that the pain is sustained by a combination of physical, psychological and social (environmental) factors. This means that, when making a physical diagnosis, the treatment options considered can also have a negative effect on the pain, and the best way to treat this effect has to be taken into account as well.
Pain rehabilitation programmes are always supplied by a team of health care providers (consisting of a rehabilitation and physical medicine physician, psychologist, social worker, physiotherapist and occupational therapist). Treatment consists of a combination of therapeutic modalities in the fields of physical and psychological support.
The aim of pain rehabilitation is to show the patient how he can function in the best way possible during his everyday life, and how he can participate in society.
Cognitive behavioural therapy forms part of such pain rehabilitation, and is believed to have a positive effect on the patient's thoughts and feelings about pain and about how he deals with this pain in his everyday life.
The final goal of pain rehabilitation is to adapt a patient's pain behaviour by changing his incorrect thoughts and/or feelings about the cause and course of his pain. As soon as a patient's thoughts about pain become realistic, so does his opinion of his pain. As a result, he can change his behaviour and will therefore function better in his everyday life.
Apart from special pain rehabilitation, there are also general rehabilitation programmes that are aimed at improving the everyday functioning of patients. These programmes mainly focus on various types of restriction in a patient's everyday activities that are caused by his pain.