The Biopsychosocial Model of Health

Over more than 35 years in prac­tice, I’ve devel­oped exper­tise in ana­lyz­ing the mobil­i­ty of the spine, the sta­tus of the inter­ver­te­bral discs, the sup­ple­ness and strength of spinal mus­cles, and the state of the ner­vous sys­tem as it reg­u­lates spinal move­ment and inter­prets and responds to pain.

To deep­en my body of knowl­edge, I’ve also become informed about the chem­i­cal process­es of inflam­ma­tion, pain sig­nal­ing, tis­sue repair, and the hor­mon­al respons­es to spinal stress.

As exten­sive as this base of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence is, there are still oth­er aspects of life that have an impact on the expe­ri­ence of back pain.

The bio-psy­cho-social mod­el

Physi­cians who rec­og­nize the mul­ti­di­men­sion­al nature of back pain (and oth­er health issues) have devel­oped the biopsy­choso­cial mod­el to describe the com­plex web of fac­tors that influ­ence your spinal health.

The “Bio” part of the biopsy­choso­cial mod­el explains back pain based on anatom­i­cal fac­tors:

  • the bio­me­chan­ics of the spine,
  • the spe­cif­ic mus­cles, joints, or discs that are under stress,
  • the chem­i­cal sig­nals of inflam­ma­tion,
  • the nerve path­ways that car­ry pain mes­sages,

and so forth.

But the “Bio” part of biopsy­choso­cial doesn’t give you a com­plete expla­na­tion of back pain. That’s because your feel­ings and moods (depres­sion, anger, anx­i­ety, etc.), along with the emo­tion­al mean­ing you asso­ciate with  pain all play into your back prob­lems. These are the psy­cho- parts of the biopsy­choso­cial mod­el.

There are strong cor­re­la­tions between social fac­tors and back pain too.  These include…

Because of the com­plex way all of these bio, psy­cho and social fac­tors inter­act, it can become impos­si­ble to iden­ti­fy a spe­cif­ic cause of back pain.

For­tu­nate­ly, if you have back pain, you can tune into your own body and life expe­ri­ence to iden­ti­fy and address the fac­tors that are most impor­tant to your sit­u­a­tion.


About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods.

His website,, provides more information about his approach.

Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.

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