Chronic Pain and Body Image
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Chronic pain, pain that persists beyond the time that normal healing would occur, affects approximately 30 to 60 million people in the United States alone. Factors that contribute to the maintenance, severity and etiology of chronic pain need to be studied. One factor that has been suggested to play a role in chronic pain is body image distortions. Similarly, research indicates a relationship between body image distortions and experience of the rubber hand illusion (RHI). The present study examined differences in chronic pain patients and controls with regard to body image distortions and the rubber hand illusion. Results suggested that chronic pain participants exhibited more dissatisfaction with regard to the Body Image II Questionnaire. For participants with chronic pain, as VAS scores increased, body satisfaction increased. Chronic pain participants did not differ in responses to the Rubber Hand Illusion when compared to controls. In addition, level of pain did not significantly predict responses to the RHI. The Embodiment subscale of the RHI Questionnaire significantly predicted responses to the Ranking subscale of the Body Image I Questionnaire, such that as satisfaction with body increased, embodiment of the rubber hand illusion increased. Overall, this research provides further information on body image dissatisfaction and the RHI in those with chronic pain.