Pain is a general term that describes uncomfortable sensations in the body. It stems from activation of the nervous system. Pain can range from annoying to debilitating, and it can feel like a sharp stabbing or a dull ache. Pain can also be described as throbbing, stinging, sore, and pinching. Pain can be consistent, can start and stop frequently, or can appear only under some conditions. People respond to pain differently. Some people have a high tolerance for pain, while others have a low tolerance. For this reason, pain is highly subjective.
Pain can be acute or can occur over a longer period of time. It may be related to a specific injury or issue, or it may be chronic, with ongoing sensations lasting for longer than three months. Pain can be localized, affecting a specific area of the body, or it can be general—for example, the overall body aches associated with the flu. With many chronic conditions, the cause of the pain is unknown.
Although inconvenient and uncomfortable, pain can be a good thing. It lets us know when something is wrong and gives us hints about causes. Some pain is easy to diagnose and can be managed at home. But some types of pain signal serious conditions.