The role of Occupational Therapy in Pain Management

Overtime chronic pain leads to a sense of disempowerment, and the loss of control to engage in daily activities. Using a self-management approach, occupational therapy focuses on helping individuals participate in daily activities in adaptive ways. Through the occupational therapy process, specific performance problems in daily living are assessed, valued activities are identified, and evidence-based therapeutic approaches are used to address the client’s goals. Occupational therapy is a necessary and core component of any comprehensive pain rehabilitation program.

Intervention Approaches Education

Clients are often uninformed about the neurophysiology of the pain response, their specific pain diagnosis, and non-medical approaches used to manage pain. The process of informing clients about their pain, and clarifying treatment expectations and the self-management approach, prepares them for active participation in the rehabilitation process.

Functional Goal Setting

Clients are involved in identifying and setting goals for their own therapy. This process supports client motivation and participation while improving therapy outcomes.

Occupational therapists also help people to manage and live with long-term (chronic) health conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. Occupational therapists are experts in the relationships between what people do and their health and well-being, and work with people to help make every day living easier.

Occupational therapists assist people to manage ongoing symptoms and prevent complications by:

  • building their knowledge and skills
  • finding new ways of doing activities
  • changing the environment to suit their needs