What is pain?

An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.

  • Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Pain and nociception are different phenomena. Pain cannot be inferred solely from activity in sensory neurons.
  • Through their life experiences, individuals learn the concept of pain.
  • A person’s report of an experience as pain should be respected.
  • Although pain usually serves an adaptive role, it may have adverse effects on function and social and psychological well-being.
  • Verbal description is only one of several behaviors to express pain; inability to communicate does not negate the possibility that a human or a nonhuman animal experiences pain.



Reference: Raja, Srinivasa N.a,*; Carr, Daniel B.b; Cohen, Miltonc; Finnerup, Nanna B.d,e; Flor, Hertaf; Gibson, Stepheng; Keefe, Francis J.h; Mogil, Jeffrey S.i; Ringkamp, Matthiasj; Sluka, Kathleen A.k; Song, Xue-Junl; Stevens, Bonniem; Sullivan, Mark D.n; Tutelman, Perri R.o; Ushida, Takahirop; Vader, Kyleq. The revised International Association for the Study of Pain definition of pain: concepts, challenges, and compromises. PAIN 161(9):p 1976-1982, September 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001939