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
Treatments and Therapies
- Magnets for Pain Relief (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Managing Pain: Moving Beyond Opioids (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Non-Drug Pain Relief: Imagery (Ohio State University Medical Center) - PDF
- Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (American Osteopathic Association)
- Pain (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Pain Relievers: MedlinePlus Health Topic (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Pain: Considering Complementary Approaches (eBook) (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Stress Management: Massage (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- 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) - PDF
- Genetics Home Reference: congenital insensitivity to pain (National Library of Medicine)
- Genetics Home Reference: paroxysmal extreme pain disorder (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Facts and Figures on Pain (American Academy of Pain Medicine)
- Mind-Body Medicine Practices in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Pain Management (National Institute of Nursing 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)
- Article: A Systematic Review of Devices and Techniques that Objectively Measure Patients'...
- Article: Neurobiological mechanisms underlying the sleep-pain relationship in adolescence: A review.
- Article: Machine learning methods for automatic pain assessment using facial expression information:...
- Pain -- see more articles
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