The Influence of Pain on Behavior

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Pain is an experience that has a devastating impact on a patient. The widely accepted definition of pain describes it as an aching physical, emotional or psychological experience associable with existing or possible damage of body tissue or related stimuli (Vlaeyen, Crombez, & Linton, 2016). It has several influences on a person’s behavior and activities of daily living.

One significant influence of pain on behavior relates to its effects on patients’ movements and body postures. Usually, the movement and posture of a person in pain shows evidence of suffering, as most patients move, sit and sleep in ways that favor the part of the body experiencing the pain (Vlaeyen, Crombez, & Linton, 2016). These behaviors indicate the level of discomfort a person has due to pain, whether chronic or acute.

A second behavioral influence of pain shows in facial expressions, body language and non-verbal vocalizations. These are considered among the most effective methods of patient assessment for caregivers. A person in pain will often grimace, brace, rub, sigh and groan depending on the nature and location of the pain (Kucyi, A., & Davis, 2015). These behaviors may differ from one patient to the next depending on family norms and sociocultural influences, with some patients being more dramatic and vocal than others.

Pain sometimes results in compensatory behaviors, which can positive or negative implications on the ADLs of a patient. One class of compensatory behavior is associable with avoidance of unpleasant symptoms. For example, a person may guard a painful area of the body from activity. A different class of the behavior relates to overuse of the pain area in order to retain normality and perform daily activities effectively (Kucyi, A., & Davis, 2015). The behavioral change can have positive effects such as assisting the patient to cope with injury or disease and to continue to possess efficient functioning. However, it may also have negative implications such as resulting in involuntary immobility, increase difficulty of movement or further development of the health issue.


Kucyi, A., & Davis, K. D. (2015). The dynamic pain connectome. Trends in neurosciences, 38(2), 86-95.

Vlaeyen, J. W., Crombez, G., & Linton, S. J. (2016). The fear-avoidance model of pain. Pain, 157(8), 1588-1589.

October 05, 2023

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