Living with a body in pain – between acceptance and denial


Maria Afrell, SAMREHAB, Västerviks sjukhus, Västervik 59381, Sweden.


The aetiology of nonspecific musculoskeletal pain is considered to be multi-factorial. Long-standing pain not only has a negative impact on the individual's general health but also changes the individual's experience of him/her self and his/her world. The aim of this study was to describe how individuals with long-standing musculoskeletal pain, in a bodily existential perspective, relate to their aching body. Semi-structured interviews with 20 patients were analysed using mainly a phenomenological–hermeneutic method. From the analysis, four main categories reflect the meaning contents of the interviews: the body as an aspect of identity; body reliance; body awareness; ways of understanding pain. From these categories, four distinct typologies were inferred: surrendering to ones fate; accepting by an active process of change; balancing between hope and resignation; rejecting the body. The result indicates that patients with long-standing pain are to be found along a spectrum from accepting to rejecting the aching body. Body awareness and body reliance seem to have importance in the process of acceptance of the body as well as life situation as a whole, which we regard as interesting hypotheses for further inquiry.