Understanding Pain and Arthritis

May, 2022

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and/or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.

The sensation of pain is generated by nerves that send signals to our brains letting it know organs or tissues are damaged or irritated.

Pain can be divided into two categories:

1.   Acute Pain - this pain is temporary and goes away quickly. It is very useful because it lets your body know that something is damaged and to protect it so that you can heal.

2.   Chronic Pain - is unpleasant and can last a long time. If the pain stays in the same location for greater than 3-6 months, it is described as chronic pain. This type of pain is not useful because it may persist for long periods of time without evidence of further injury. It does not act as a warning system but may lead to depression, despair, helplessness, and loss of function.

What causes arthritis pain?

  • Inflammation, this process causes heat and swelling in joints
  • Damage to the joint affected
  • Muscle tension, from trying to protect joints from painful movements

For some conditions, such as Fibromyalgia, the cause of the pain is not fully understood.


The Pain Cycle

Pain can be exacerbated by several things in our daily life. Pain, stress, fatigue, and depression all affect one another.
For example, people who feel depressed or anxious have been found to be more sensitive to pain. This can make your pain feel worse, which leads to a continuing cycle of fatigue and depression.
Pain may limit some of the things you do, but it doesn’t have to control your life.


1. Understanding Pain. Northwestern medicine. N.d

2. Arthritis Australia. Dealing with Pain information sheet. Dec 2017.

For more information:

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