Pain is a signal in your nervous system that something may be wrong. It is an unpleasant feeling, such as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen, chest, pelvis, or you may feel pain all over.
Pain can be helpful in diagnosing a problem. If you never felt pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realize you have a medical problem that needs treatment.
There are two types of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain usually comes on suddenly, because of a disease, injury, or inflammation. It can often be diagnosed and treated. It usually goes away, though sometimes it can turn into chronic pain. Chronic pain lasts for a long time, and can cause severe problems.
Pain is not always curable, but there are many ways to treat it. Treatment depends on the cause and type of pain. There are drug treatments, including pain relievers. There are also non-drug treatments, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Pain Management: Lifestyle & Management (American Geriatrics Society)
- Quality of Life Scale: A Measure of Function for People with Pain (American Chronic Pain Association) - PDF
- Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Going to the ER (American Chronic Pain Association)
- Pain Information Brochures (NIH Pain Consortium)
- Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Using Alcohol to Relieve Your Pain: What Are the Risks? (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
- congenital insensitivity to pain: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
- paroxysmal extreme pain disorder: MedlinePlus Genetics (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Untangling the Source of Ouch and Itch (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- Find a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Physician (American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Also in Spanish
- NIH Pain Consortium