Published on July 5, 2022

Physical Pain vs. Psychological Pain

by Psych Times Staff

If you are experiencing chronic pains in your body, it can be stressful and upsetting. Without a diagnosis, it can feel hopeless. 

The difficulty with diagnosing pain is the range of different factors that can be causing, and influencing the pain, including both physical factors and psychological factors. These have different causes but are almost identical to your brain. Your brain will process them differently, however, there is research to suggest an overlap and similarity of the body’s reactions to pain. 

It can be helpful to understand the difference between physical pain and psychological pain and where they come from so that you can seek the right support and start to feel better. 

Here are some of the differences with psychological and physical pain. 

Physical pains 

Physical pain can sometimes be something as obvious as an injury such as a broken arm or leg. It can also be conditions such as knee pain, hip pain and spinal pain that come from something like wearing the wrong shoes. The most common types of injuries usually involve sports, or slips and falls at home that results in broken bones. 

This is a pain that you can see a cause and effect for, or it can be easily investigated. You can then seek the right medical support to resolve the problem quickly. 

Psychological pains

While some pains may be psychological, they will still be experienced physically in the body. Psychological pains can be much harder to diagnose, as there has not been an obvious breakage or injury to the body. This can often feel like neck pain, chest pain, digestive pain, headaches, and random shooting pains around your body. 

This is called psychogenic pain, which is known to be caused by psychological distress and conditions, such as stress, depression and anxiety. This is normally diagnosed when there is no real physical cause for the pain, but the body is experiencing pains. The human mind and body are much more connected than previous scholars thought, which can result in our brain taking different psychological symptoms, and manifesting them into physical pain. 

The research in this field is still ongoing, as everyone will experience these psychological pains differently, and for different reasons. Unfortunately, this makes finding the cause and treating the pain much more difficult. This area of expertise is growing, as it is becoming apparent that some of the most problematic issues are coming from a person’s lifestyle and mental wellbeing. 

Seek the right support

Chronic pain can come from a variety of different factors, whether it is inflammation in the body, a physical or visible injury, or emotional distress. Pain caused by emotional distress can be much harder to diagnose and can be difficult to treat quickly. It would usually entail therapy or counseling, and additional alternative therapies that involve the body. Many studies have shown how impactful practices such as meditation and yoga can be in healing pain from psychological causes, as it helps you calm your body down and process your emotions. 

When you are experiencing physical pain from an injury, while it can be just as unpleasant, there is a range of medical professionals available to help you, whether that’s your local doctor, a pediatric clinic or a chiropractor. 

If you are experiencing pain, make sure you seek the right support for your condition.

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