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Psychogenic Pain

What is psychogenic pain?

Psychogenic pain is not an official diagnostic term. It is used to describe a pain disorder attributed to psychological factors. Such things as beliefs, fears, and strong emotions can cause, increase, or prolong pain. The term is not often used any more, since in the past it was often based on an inability to find medical explanations for pain. Now we know that many chronic pains are due to changes in the nervous system rather than to illness or damage to the body, so that normal tests and exams are no longer considered evidence that the pain is caused by psychological factors.

What are the symptoms of psychogenic pain?

Headaches, muscle pains, back pain, and stomach pains are some of the most common types of psychogenic pain.

How is psychogenic pain diagnosed?

The diagnosis of psychogenic pain is made when symptoms or examination findings are not compatible with the function of the nervous system, as it is currently understood. However, it is clear that psychological factors always play a role in pain – they may increase it or diminish it and can even eliminate it all together. Medical doctors and mental health specialists working together are often most helpful to those with this disorder.

How is psychogenic pain treated?

Treatment for psychogenic pain might include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants with pain reducing properties
  • Non-narcotic painkillers

Ask a health care provider for more information if you suspect that someone you care about might have psychogenic pain.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 12/8/2014...#12056