Content » Vol 41, Issue 9

Original report

Striving to master variable pain: An interview study in primary care patients with non-specific long-term neck/shoulder pain

Cia Hunhammar, Lena Nilsson-Wikmar, Monika Löfgren
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0421


Objective: The aim of this study was to explore and analyse the experience of living with long-term neck/shoulder pain and its effect on daily life.
Design: A thematic interview study with emergent design.
Subjects: Twelve patients in primary care (6 women and 6 men) with long-term neck/shoulder pain.
Methods: Thematic interviews analysed using grounded theory.
Results: A conceptual model emerged. The core category “striving to master variable pain” comprises how the informants are constantly aiming at not letting it become too much of a hindrance. The 3 sub-categories “space for health”, “strategies for pain control” and “disruptions in daily life” interact with each other. Giving oneself adequate time and prioritizing one’s health-promoting behaviour in relation to pain were important when adopting strategies for pain control. Men and women differed when describing consequences for domestic life and prioritizing their own health in relation to pain.
Conclusion: Living with long-term variable neck/shoulder pain involves a struggle not to let the pain become too much of a physical obstacle to daily life. Individuals learn to respond to the pain in different ways. Allowing oneself adequate time and prioritizing health in relation to pain appear to be important for controlling pain.

Lay Abstract


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