Accurate Education – Pain


Recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data suggest substantial rates of pain from the various causes and that most people in chronic pain have multiple sites of pain. For U.S. adults reporting pain, causes include: severe headache or migraine (16.1%), low back pain (28.1%), neck pain (15.1%), knee pain (19.5%), shoulder pain (9.0%), finger pain (7.6%), and hip pain (7.1%). 


See also:

Politics of Pain


Understanding Pain:

Neurobiology of Pain

Neuropathic (Nerve) Pain

Central Sensitization


Opioid Blockers for Emergency Treatment of Opioid Overdose

Opioid Tolerance

Visceral Pain


Treating Pain:


Medications for Pain – Overview


NSAIDs (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)

Gabapentin (Neurontin) & Pregabalin (Lyrica)

CAM Medications for Pain

Counterfeit Medications

Medical Marijuana


Integrating the Management of Pain:

Integrative & Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

CAM Medications for Pain

Nutrition and Pain 


Mindful Intervention

Cognitive Behavior Training (CBT)

Meditation & Mindful Exercises



Physical Intervention

Physical Therapy

Personal Training

Yoga & Tai Chi


Managing Pain Associated with Surgery:

Surgical Pain, Post-Operative

Considering Surgery?

Failed Back Surgery

Post-Mastectomy Pain


Managing Pain Associated with Specific Diagnoses:

Arthritis – CAM Treatment

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy – see: Neuropathic (Nerve) Pain


Fibromyalgia – Overview

Fibromyalgia – CAM Treatment


Meralgia Paresthetica

Low Back Pain (LBP) – Overview

LBP – Disc Pain

LBP – Facet Pain

LBP – Myofascial Pain

LBP – Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain

LBP – Sciatica

LBP – Spinal Stenosis


Interventional Procedures for LBP:

Epidural Injections

Facet Joint Injections and Nerve Procedures



Visceral Pain Syndromes – Overview:


Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic Pelvic Pain

Chronic Prostatitis

Interstitial Cystitis


see below for more diagnoses


Treatment Procedures:

Epidural Injections

Facet Joint Injections and Nerve Procedures

Heat & Cold Therapy

Inversion Therapy

Massage Therapy

Physical Therapy

Trigger Point Therapy


LBP – Surgery:

Considering Surgery?

Failed Back Surgery


Definitions and Terms Related to Pain


Key to Links:

Grey text – handout

Red text – another page on this website

Blue text – journal publication


“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls.”
― Orson F. Whitney

Introduction to Pertinent Terms and Concepts for Understanding Pain:



Pain is defined as:

“an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”


Pathological Pain Terminology

Paresthesias – numbness or tingling

Dysesthesias – electric shock phenomenon

Hyperesthesia – increased sensitivity to mild painful stimuli

Hyperalgesia – increased sensitivity to normally painful stimuli

Hyperpathia – pain produced by subthreshold stimuli

Allodynia – pain produced by normally non-painful stimuli

Phantom – pain perceived to arise from a body part that has been amputated


Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is inconsistently defined but is generally considered to be pain that persists beyond the normal course of healing, with a time frame usually defined as 3 months or longer.


Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic Pain Syndrome is chronic pain associated with signi!cant psychosocial dysfunction. The psychosocial problems may include depression, drug dependence, anxiety, and other manifestations including pain complaints that are out of proportion to the physical findings. Chronic pain syndrome is not synonymous with chronic pain.


Central Pain

Central pain is pain arising from a lesion in the central nervous system – such as thalamic pain following stroke – or deafferentation pain (stemming from loss or interruption of sensory nerve fiber transmissions.


Central Pain Syndrome

Central pain syndrome is defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as “a neurological condition caused by damage to or dysfunction of the central nervous system.” Central Pain Syndrome can occur as a result of stroke, multiple sclerosis, neoplasm, epilepsy, CNS trauma, or Parkinson’s disease. Patients with central pain syndrome may experience localized pain, burning, and/or numbness in speci!c parts of the body, or throughout the body.


Types of Pain

Because the preferred choices of treatment for pain are based at least in part on the type of pain, it is important to understand the different types of pain and how to distinguish one type from the other. The experience of pain is often a combination of different types and therefore the treatment of pain often benefits from the use of more than one appproach and/or type of pain medication.


Nociceptive Pain

Nociceptive pain is caused by activation of neural pathways in response to damaging or potentially damaging stimuli to body tissue such as occurs with chemical or mechanical trauma or burns.  It is usually described as a dull, aching, or throbbing pain, sometimes sharp. Nociceptive pain is further divided into “visceral” pain, originating from the organs inside the body,  and “somatic” pain, originating from muscles, bone and skin. Visceral pain is often vague, difficult to describe and hard to localize. Nocicptive pain is usually a symptom of a disease process.


Neuropathic Pain (“Nerve Pain”)

“Neuropathic” or nerve pain is pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction in a nerve or in the nervous system or pain arising as a direct consequence of a lesion or disease affecting the nervous system. Nerve pain is usually perceived as burning, electric, shock-like, tingling or sharp and may start at one location and shoot, or “radiate” to another location (like sciatica). Neuropathic pain can be “peripheral,”  (outside the central nervous system),”  like carpal tunnel pain or “central,” originating in the spinal cord or brain.  Neuropathic pain is often a disease process, not simply the symptom of one.

For more information:  

Assessment and Management of Neuropathic Pain

Gabapentin (Neurontin) & Pregabalin (Lyrica)



Inflammatory Pain (“Arthritis”)

The pain associated with arthritis is sometimes referred to as inflammatory pain due to the underlying component of inflammation contributing to the pain and disease process. While not strictly a separate type of pain, arthritis pain is often treated differently due to the focus on reducing inflammation thereby reducing the associated pain. Recent research however show us that the pain and disease process of arthritis also involves the underlying bone of the affected joint and there is a neuropathic component to the pain of arthritis. The use of neuropathic pain agents has been shown to be helpful in arthritis pain. Treating arthritis with NSAIDs offers both analgesic and inflammatory benefits although the dosage and duration of treatment may vary between the two (see: NSAIDs).

For more information:  Arthritis and CAM Treatment of Arthritis


Visceral Pain

The pain associated with internal organs and tissues is referred to as “visceral” pain. It tends to be somewhat vague when attempting to localize where it arises and it is often perceived as dull, aching or cramping although it may be burning or sharp and stabbing. Visceral pain is often perceived in a different location than where the problem originates (see “referred pain,” below). For example, the pain associated with a heart attack is often perceived down the left (or right) arm.


Some common conditions associated with visceral pain include chronic pancreatitis, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, chronic prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain and irritable bowel syndrome.  Visceral pain is now believed to often be accompanied by a hypersensitivity to pain as well as associated with central sensitivity that leads to a spread of symptoms beyond the specific organs involved in the primary condition.


While visceral pain may respond well to NSAIDs, especially menstrual pain, the hypersensitivity to pain in these conditions may respond to neuropathic pain agents such as gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica) and tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil)..


“Referred” Pain (Those “shooting pains”)

Referred pain often makes establishing a diagnosis challenging. When the pain originates in one location but is perceived in, or travels to, another location the process is termed “referred” pain. Many people with chronic low back pain also experience “sciatica,” pain that originates in the low back and travels down one or both legs – a common example of referred pain.

The source of referred pain is often difficult to identify accurately. “Sciatica,” so named after the sciatic nerve, implying that pain traveling from the low back into the lower extremities is generated by compression or other pathology of the sciatic nerve. Unfortunatly, it is not so simple. Many tissues have the capacity to refer pain to a different location. Best known of the referred pains are the dermatomal patterns of pain generated from a specific nerve root in the lower back that give rise to specific patterns of pain from the low back to the great toe for example. This is a “true” sciatica, referred pain from the sciatic nerve. 


However, other tissues in the back including the facet joints in the spine, muscles and fascia (the tissue surrounding muscles) can also refer pain to the lower extremities. Referred nerve pain is likely to be perceived as typical neuropathic pain: burning, electric, tingling and usually well localized. Referred pain from the facet joints is more likely to be sharp or dull and aching and likely to be more vaguely localized, usually not below the knees. This case in point underscores the need to evaluate any pain carefully, especially referred pain, to establish an accurate diagnosis. If the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment is unlikely to be effective as many patients victimized by unsuccessful lumbar surgery for “sciatic” pain  will attest to.


Identifying the Source of Pain

The greatest challenge to a physician can be establishing the source and cause of pain. While this web site is not how to diagnose pain, it is important to emphasize that there is no singular, reliable means of accurately diagnosing pain. Nothing is completely reliable, not an MRI, x-ray or other imaging, not the physical exam or laboratory testing and not obtaining a history. The answer, when it can be found, lies in integrating all available information to identify a pain. The responsibility of the patient is to assist by carefully providing their clinician with as much information as possible as to the nature of the pain, when it starts/stops, where it starts/stops, what makes it better/worse, how it feels (sharp, burning etc.) and any other additional information available. The patient and clinician working as a team will be much more effective in both diagnosing and treating pain.


Neurobiology of Pain

To better understand how your clinician treats your pain and why specific medications or treatments may be advised,

please explore: Neurobiology of Pain.


Central Sensitization

Central Sensitization is a process of hyper-responsiveness to sensory stimuli which is a result of chronic pain-induced changes in the spinal cord and brain. It can be an important contributing process to the chronic pain experience.

For more information: Assessment and Management of Central Sensitization



Hyperalgesia is an exaggerated, increased painful response to a stimulus which is normally painful. Hyperalgesia can be a consequence of central sensitization and is also thought to occur with chronic exposure to opioids, although the clincal significance of this is uncertain.

For more information: Assessment and Management of Opioid Induced Hyperalgesia



Allodynia is a term that describes the experience of pain from a stimulus which does not normally provoke pain. Like hyperalgesia, allodynia can be a consequence of central sensitization. It commonly accompanies fibromyalgia and chronic headaches. 

For more information: Assessment and Management of Central Sensitization




 Additional Links to this Website and handout downloads:


  Definitions and Terms Related to Pain


Accurate Pain Management Program

  1. Program Information – for the patient
  2. Program Information – for the patient’s family
  3. Program Information – for the patient’s other physicians



Education Resources for Pain Clinicians and  Pain Patients

  1. Academy of Integrative Pain Management (formerly American Academy of Pain Management)
  2. American Academy of Pain Medicine


General Pain Education Resources

  3. Academy of Integrative Pain Management (formerly American Academy of Pain Management)
  4. American Academy of Pain Medicine
  5. American Chronic Pain Association
  6. American Pain Foundation
  7. National Pain Foundation
  8. Taking Charge of Your Pain – Back in Control

Couching for Pain Management



Support Groups for Pain Management

  1. Chronic Pain Anonymous



Patient Education – Pain

  1. How to explain central sensitization to patients with ‘unexplained’ chronic musculoskeletal pain – Practice guidelines – 2011
  2. The efficacy of pain neuroscience education on musculoskeletal pain A systematic review of the literature – 2016
  3. Retention of pain neuroscience knowledge – a multi-centre trial – 2016
  4. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research (Free PDF book)


Pain – Diagnoses


  1. Headaches – CAM
  2. Migraine Triggers – handout
  3. Aneurysms – A Patient Guide to Recovery
  4. A Comprehensive Review of Central Post-Stroke Pain – 2015
  5. Central Post-stroke Pain and Pharmacological Treatment – Work in Progress – 2015


Neck Pain

Back Pain

  1. Scheuermann’s Disease – handout


Arthritis/Joint Pain

  1. Osteoarthritis – CAM
  2. Baker Cyst – handout
  3. Trigger Finger – handout


Myofascial Pain (Trigger points)

  1. Myofascial Pain and Trigger Point Therapy

Diabetic Neuropathy (see Neuropathic Pain)

  1. Diabetic Neuropathy – handout



  1. Fibromyalgia – Overview
  2. Fibromyalgia – CAM Treatment


Interstitial Cystitis

  1. Interstitial-cystitis – CAM
  2. Interstitial Cystitis – Diet, CAM & Supplements  – Summary handout


Plantar Fasciitis

  1. Plantar Fasciitis – handout
  2. Plantar Fasciitis Exercises – handout


Burning Mouth Syndrome

  1. Burning Mouth Syndrome – handout



Pain – Treatment


Medications for Pain

see also:

Integrative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Nutrition and Supplements


Planning Pain Management for Upcoming Surgery

  1. When You Are Planning Surgery


Physical Therapy

  1. Accurate Clinic – Physical Therapy Evaluation – handout



  1. Massage – Types of Massage Therapy – handout
  2. Muscle Release – handout



  1. Hypnosis



  1. Acupuncture – Resources – handout



Pain – Genetics

Pain Genetics – Genetic Testing in Private Practice

    Publications co-authored by Eric Ehlenberger MD:

Using Pharmacogenetic Testing in a Pain Practice – 2014

Exploring rates of abnormal PGT findings in a pain practice – 2014


Pain Genetics – Pain Sensitivity/Perception

Pain Genetics – Opioid Addiction/Abuse Risk

Pain Genetics – Pain Medications


Pain – Diet  & Supplements

see: Nutrition and Supplements

Emphasis on Education


Accurate Clinic promotes patient education as the foundation of it’s medical care. In Dr. Ehlenberger’s integrative approach to patient care, including conventional and complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments, he may encourage or provide advice about the use of supplements. However, the specifics of choice of supplement, dosing and duration of treatment should be individualized through discussion with Dr. Ehlenberger. The following information and reference articles are presented to provide the reader with some of the latest research to facilitate evidence-based, informed decisions regarding the use of conventional as well as CAM treatments.


For medical-legal reasons, access to these links is limited to patients enrolled in an Accurate Clinic medical program.


Should you wish more information regarding any of the subjects listed – or not listed –  here, please contact Dr. Ehlenberger. He has literally thousands of published articles to share on hundreds of topics associated with pain management, weight loss, nutrition, addiction recovery and emergency medicine. It would take years for you to read them, as it did him.


For more information, please contact Accurate Clinic.


Supplements recommended by Dr. Ehlenberger may be purchased commercially online or at Accurate Clinic.

Please read about our statement regarding the sale of products recommended by Dr. Ehlenberger.

Accurate Supplement Prices