Understanding Pain

The experience of pain is highly individualized, and therefore, often misunderstood. You may be living with chronic pain and likely struggling to explain your pain experience to others. Or, you may be a caregiver trying to figure out how to comfort someone living with chronic pain. This Is Pain is committed to combating misconceptions about pain by amplifying the voices of the chronic pain community through shared experiences and education.

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Pain is the #1 reason
people see a doctor.

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More than 10 million people in the US have pain on a daily basis.

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Chronic pain is the leading cause of long-term disability in the US.

Is Pain?

Is Pain?

Pain serves an important purpose, warning you when something is wrong with your body. However, ongoing, severe pain can cause worsening health and disability, dramatically impacting one’s quality of life.

Types of Pain

What is acute pain? It usually starts suddenly and has a specific cause, like a broken bone, a burn, or surgery. When the injury has healed, the pain typically goes away.

What is chronic pain? It can be moderate to severe and lasts for longer than 6 months. It could be the result of an injury or illness, or it could start with no previous damage at all.

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How to Talk to Your Doctor About YOUR Pain

1. Where? Where is your pain? Be specific. Is it your right knee that hurts or is it pain in your hip joint?

2. What? What does your pain feel like? Use words like aching, burning, cramping, shooting, sharp, tingling, or numb to describe what your pain feels like.

3. When? When did the pain start and how long did it last? For example, does it hurt for minutes or hours at a time?

4. How bad? How severe is your pain? 10 being the absolute worst pain imaginable and 0 being no pain.

5. Worse? What makes the pain worse? For example, does moving or lifting intensify your pain? Does it get worse during the night?

Chronic Pain

Having the words to describe your pain in detail for doctors and loved ones isn’t always an easy thing to do. Keeping track of how you feel in a pain diary can be a helpful tool when trying to communicate what you’re experiencing. It’s also a great tool for recording your progress and guiding open and honest conversations with your doctor. You know your body best and it’s important to be able to communicate to your doctor how you are feeling.

Keeping track of your progress in a pain diary will help you and your doctor come up with the best approach for managing your pain.

Patient Pain Care Bill of Rights

Everyone living with pain has the right to dignity, respect, and an effective treatment plan.


Learn about treatment options and therapies for chronic pain.

Treatment options

Join the movement and learn more about living and coping with chronic pain.

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