Understanding Pain

"Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage."

- The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) definition

Pain is:

  • An evolutionary response to perceived or actual danger that serves to protect the body from damage 
  • Pain is complex, subjective, and constructed by both brain and body working in concert
  • Can be a symptom of an underlying issue or condition, or a health problem in its own right 



Pain ≠ damage

Pain and noiception are not the same and pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage. In simpler words, the amount of pain an individual experiences does not always reflect the amount of injury. Pain can occur in the absence of damage, and physical damage can occur in the absence of pain.

Pain is biopsychosocial

These three domains interact to produce and reduce acute and chronic pain.

  • Biological: age, genetics, tissue damage, anatomical and biomechanical issues, inflammation, diet, sleep, etc. 
  • Psychological: thoughts, beliefs, memories, emotions (stress, anxiety, depression, anger, etc), trauma, coping behaviors, etc. 
  • Social / Sociological: socioeconomic status, access to care, race, culture, ethnicity, family factors, home environment, media, society, context, environmental factors, etc

Our approach to pain

Pain treatments target both brain and body, combining medicine, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, biofeedback, and other modalities as a multimodal effort.

Medical and psychosocial interventions must be prioritized equally.

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