Art in the management of pain!

Frida Kahlo pain management

Pain is a very personal experience, it isn’t something that shows up on a scan or that can be objectively measured. Putting pain into words can be very difficult and as much as we try, it is often hard to convey the right type of sensation to somebody else.

Whether this is acute pain due to a sports injury or chronic long term pain, as osteopaths and physiotherapists we often play a role, both educational and clinical, in the management of it.

What else could help?

According to Pain, the medical journal of The International Association for the Study of Pain, art is an answer for the management of chronic pain.

Illustrating pain and giving it a shape helps come to terms with it, eliciting an emotional response that can represent the drive to overcome the overwhelming experience of pain itself.

Research has shown that pain has a complex multifactorial nature. This is made in the first place by the interaction between the tissues causing pain and the communication centres of peripheral and central nervous system, mediated by an integration with our perceptive system that ultimately determines the way pain is perceived from a physical and psychological point of view.

The bio-psycho-social model

Years of research led to the development of a theoretical model for the understanding of pain called the bio-psycho-social model which was consequently integrated with a spiritual element too. This is where art plays a role!

Painting, sculpting, drawing help improve the connection between our body physical pain and the outside world by making our own selves the channel through which pain is communicated. Feeling more able to express ourselves and doing it in an innovative way is what contributes to a better bearing of pain.

The most famous pain artists is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose work is an expression of lifelong sufferance following a devastating road traffic accident that left her pelvis and spine severely damaged.

An integrated approach to pain management is what nowadays represents the most effective way to address patients’ complaints and this is why feeling looked after by a multidisciplinary healthcare team becomes so relevant in our modern society.

Our strength is being able to offer a comprehensive range of pain management treatments from osteopathy, physiotherapy and massage to dry needling and traditional acupuncture to counselling, psychotherapy and exercise based approach, all of which are based on the fundamental belief that self-expression, as it happens in art, is the key to long lasting wellbeing


If you’re not sure whether we can help, please give us a call on 020 7735 6813 or email