Women who suffer from chronic muscular pain feel that they are powerless in the face of the health services. Western medicine regards it as a truism that pain can always be traced to a physical symptom. However, doctors may be unable to identify “objective findings” in patients with problems of this sort. Physiotherapists, on the other hand, find physical changes in such patients: arrested respiration, muscular tension, poor balance and difficulty in relaxing.
Such changes may make it easier to understand the problems of these patients. A phenomenological perspective on the body, as something that we both have and are, could improve our understanding of how our physical habits develop. Sissel Steilhaug, a physician and senior research scientist at SINTEF, points out that if health service personnel are to be able to help patients with chronic muscular pain, they will have to look at physical problems in the context of the sort of lives led by their patients.