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 Chronic Pain
    Acute vs. Chronic Pain
    Is My Pain Real?
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   Misc. Trauma

Is The Pain Just in My Head?


      Since pain is our warning system that something is wrong, it makes sense that your doctor will examine you and order tests to see if something is wrong. He may find nothing wrong for two possible reasons. One, he may not have the training to observe what is wrong. Your problem may be your poor posture that after many years is now causing you pain or it might be your workstation is set up wrong. Most doctors are not trained to spot these or many other environmental causes of pain. The second reason is the problem may be with your pain sensory system. An easily understood analogy is the space shuttle on the launch pad ready for lift off. The countdown stops because of a very dangerous fuel leak but upon investigation, there is no fuel leak, only a malfunctioning fuel sensor. Your pain may be caused by a problem with your nervous system which itself could be a serious problem needing examination by a pain specialist.

      You may have had doctors tell you "You have nothing wrong with you." Or even, "You do not really have pain; it is just in your head." These are unenlightened statements. A more enlightened statement would be, "I cannot find anything wrong." Pain cannot be objectively measured or observed by someone else so it is impossible for someone else even a doctor to accurately determine how much pain you are experiencing. It is extremely rare that someone makes up pain so it is very unlikely that your pain is just in your head. (However it is not rare for people experiencing chronic pain to magnify their symptoms. For more information on symptom magnification, click on the "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" banner at the top of most pages in this website.) Realize however that a doctor wanting you to see a psychiatrist or psychologist because he or she believes your pain is all in your head is very different than an other doctor wanting you to see a psychiatrist or psychologist because the pain you are experiencing is causing you psychological distress.

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