What is the Biopsychosocial Approach?

Research shows that a biopsychosocial approach may be the key to combating chronic pain in the American population. This approach contains a biological, psychological, and social component, which when used together, creates a holistic approach. The method was originally developed by George Engel, who argued that there were limiting factors to the biomedical approach towards treatment. Medical care providers should consider the social context of a patient in order to understand their problems more accurately, and determine the most effective method(s). ASTR is a biopsychosocial approach that uses pain-free methods to treat the source of soft tissue restrictions in the most effective manner. 

Chronic musculoskeletal pain has become more common in industrialized countries, with a 35% occurrence rate. The biopsychosocial method focuses on understanding and treating the source of a patient’s symptoms in a holistic manner unlike single approach methods, which focus on treating the immediate symptoms. Due to this, the biopsychosocial approach is considered beneficial for the current treatment and early diagnosis of certain chronic pains such as rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers discovered that multidisciplinary treatments are more effective than single-disciplinary approaches.  

There are no specific procedures, pharmacological agents, or physical treatments that are effective in treating chronic pain permanently, as researchers believe that pain has more than one source. Pain affects a personal physically, but it also affects a person psychologically as well, since it usually produces negative emotions. Researchers suggest that using a multidisciplinary approach may be the greatest improvement to medicine as most patients who turn to multidisciplinary pain clinics have had surgeries that have shown to be ineffective. This also suggests that sending patients to a multidisciplinary pain clinic may be a more cost effective plan that paying for surgery. Research shows that 60% of patients in multidisciplinary pain clinics have one or more psychological impairments, and that there is a pain reduction rate of 20-30%, which shows the importance of using a holistic approach. ASTR takes a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to treat short and long term pain. 

How does Biopsychosocial Approach Compares to Other Treatments?

In 23 randomized controlled trials in determining how effective the biopsychosocial approach compares to other treatment methods, either utilized jointly or independently; researchers studied medication, education, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation, biofeedback, and social therapy to see which of the following methods were most effective. Researchers focused on subjects between the ages of 18 through 75, who suffered from chronic pain longer than 12 weeks, and found that cognitive-behavioral rehabilitation, which is a biopsychosocial approach, yielded positive results in terms of long-term health. 

Another research study was conducted to determine the varying effectiveness of using a biopsychosocial approach compared to other conventional methods. Researchers looked at 44 individuals who developed lower back pain from using the computer for more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Half of the participants were assigned to the biopsychosocial method and the other half were assigned to the conventional treatment, and the effectiveness of the treatment was evaluated based on three aspects: pain intensity, quantity of sick leave used, and quality of life. What they found was that individuals who received a multidisciplinary approach improved in all three of those aspects as their pain intensity reduced and their quality of life improved. Individuals assigned to the multidisciplinary approach yielded a sick leave rate of 19.19% unlike those who only received a conventional treatment, which was 63.63%. With these findings, there is a higher chance of ASTR being effective in treating pain as it is a biopsychosocial approach. 

What Are the Long Term Effects of the Biopsychosocial Approach?

 A study was conducted to determine the long term effects of the biopsychosocial approach on individuals with lower back pain that lasted more than three months. The study included 41 trials with 6858 participants, where 16 of those trials comparing the biopsychosocial approach to the conventional treatments and 19 comparing it to physical treatment methods. What they found was that there was moderate quality evidence supporting the effectiveness of biopsychosocial approach compared to conventional treatment. However, there was a lack of evidence that supported the biopsychosocial approach in terms of pain compared to physical treatment. 

In 10 randomized controlled trials, the biopsychosocial approach was compared to a controlled treatment did not meet the criteria to be considered a multidisciplinary treatment. When compared, there was strong evidence that supported a multidisciplinary approach to be more effective with functional improvements compared to the controlled treatment. Adequate evidence also shows that the biopsychosocial approach is superiorly effective compared to a single-discipline approach. Studies like these show that the biopsychosocial treatments, such as ASTR, are more effective in fictional improvement compared to single-discipline approaches. 

So How Does ASTR Apply?

ASTR is a biopsychosocial approach that works on multiple aspects such as soft tissue, ergonomic stress, meditation, nutrition, body mechanics, and patient education. In a study determining the long-term effectives of ASTR, 105 participants were treated for neck pain over the course of two years, where some of these patients had a history of past treatments that did not relieve any of their symptoms with the exclusion of pregnancy, cancer diagnosis, structural deformity of the neck, pain from a car accident, stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal stenosis, Parkinson’s disease, or recent surgery. 97% of participants experienced pain relief after two ASTR treatments, and 87% of patients reported no neck pain one year later. This specifically demonstrates the long-term benefits of ASTR for treating neck pain by addressing problems such as poor posture and reducing symptoms by using soft tissue release.