What Is Pain? 

Written by Teo Buzas, PT, DPT

Our understanding of pain tends to be straightforward. For example, I drop something heavy on my foot and it hurts. Pain equals injury, and the more pain I have the more injury there is. Experiences such as this are easy to understand and support the belief that pain is an indicator of tissue health. Pain is considered an input, a sensation that we feel caused by tissue injury. In this outdated pain model, pain is caused by injury and increased pain means increased damage. However, we now know that pain is not as straightforward. This new pain model states that pain is not an input. Pain is a complex, multifaceted output of the brain. Tissue damage is just one input into the brain’s output of the pain experience.

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