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What is pain?

Pain is a sensation that is experienced by all of us at some time or another.  Understanding more about the biology and psychology of pain will help you to understand your pain and the approach taken here in Pain Clinic. 

 The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as:

"An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage".

The IASP definition is useful since it stresses two aspects of pain.  Pain is something that you feel physically - your body senses it. We know a great deal about the physical aspects of pain.  However, as well as this, pain is also something you feel emotionally. Pain is subjective, affected by your current and past experiences, your individual bodily response to pain and what the pain means to you. It is also affected by psychological factors from day to day. For example, on days that you are feeling down, you may notice pain more than on days when you are feeling happy.  We also all notice times when we can distract ourselves from pain and notice it less.  So it can sometimes be hard for doctors to understand exactly what you are feeling with your pain.

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