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Media Type

Online Resource

Reviewed Date

Feb 26, 2024

Understanding Pain


Pain is a normal human experience that may be related to a physical injury, disease process, or emotional trauma. Pain provides you with important information about your physical tolerances, overall health and well-being, healing process, and sense of safety in the world. Pain is an important protective mechanism, hardwired into your biology. Everyone’s experience of pain is unique, much like your thumbprint.

red painful spine

Understanding your pain – why you feel it and what you may do about it, is an important step towards pain treatment and developing healthy coping strategies. Research shows that understanding the purpose of your pain has a positive impact on your recovery. Pain left unmanaged can be an isolating and stressful experience. It is important to understand the purpose of your pain as it relates to your medical diagnosis and work with therapists who appreciate how pain may interrupt your roles, habits and routines.

Consulting with your rehabilitation team (physician, nurse, OT, PT, SLP, Psychologist) is an important first step. They will collaborate with you to determine a comprehensive and holistic approach to treating your pain. 

We look forward to partnering with you at the 
Shirley Ryan Abilitylab Pain Management Center

South Labs

Resources To Consult: 



A World of Hurt: A Guide to Classifying Pain (2015) by, Melissa Kolski & Annie O’Connor

Explain Pain, 2nd Edition (2013) by, David Sheridan Butler & G. Lorimer Moseley

Painful Yarns: Metaphors and Stories to Help Understand the Biology of Pain (2007) by, G. Lorimer Moseley

Why Do I Hurt? : A Patient Book About the Neuroscience of Pain (2013) by, Adriaan Louw




Discover the contributing factors to why you may hurt & learn about coping strategies that may support your recovery:

American Chronic Pain Association
See their many pain management resources for identifying and caring for your pain plan with support, videos, and relaxation audio. There are also pain logs, and fibromyalgia logs in Spanish and English.

Choose PT This site gives all the benefits of culminating the best science based resources for pain, avoiding opiods, and why you should choose physical therapy as a main modality of pain relief solutions. 

NIH-DoD-VA Pain Management Collaboratory
Learn more about nonpharmacological therapies, talking points, opioid usage, good pain care plans, and the whole health model.

Pain after Spinal Cord Injury - Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center
A short informative online video slide show to inform on pain with SCI.

Tame The Beast This site brings together easy to understand information for patients from a collaboration between a pain scientist (LM), a pain physiotherapist (DM) and a professional communicator (SC).





Butler, D. S., Moseley, G. L., & Sunyata. (2019). Explain pain.

Kolski, M. C., O'Connor, A., & Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. (2015). A world of hurt: A guide to classifying pain.

Header photo by Josh Riemer on Unsplash

This content is for informational purposes only and may not be comprehensive. Information contained does not imply an endorsement from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and does not replace the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.  See here  for further details.
© Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago)
Henry B. Betts LIFE Center – (312) 238-5433

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