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Pain, Mind, and Movement

Understanding the brain’s role in pain and changing beliefs and perceptions about it can lead to better pain management and improved quality of life for people living with persistent pain.

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How are Pain, Mind, and Movement connected?

Both mind and movement play a crucial role in how individuals perceive and experience pain. Research and clinical experience have shown that numerous factors, including our mental state, beliefs, and movement patterns, can significantly influence the intensity and persistence of pain. In other words, pain can increase or decrease depending on things that have nothing to do with the painful body part itself!

Pain is not solely a result of tissue damage but rather is a complex mind-body connection. Understanding that the brain plays a central role in pain perception and that movement is crucial for recovery can change the way individuals respond to pain. By addressing beliefs, emotions, and movement patterns, individuals can reduce pain intensity and improve their quality of life, even in cases of chronic, persistent pain.

Here are some quick facts to help you move beyond pain.

Pain, Mind, and Movement Resources

Learn More About Pain, Mind, and Movement

You can learn a range of skills – like mindfulness, tailored exercises, and other mind-body techniques – to help you better manage your pain and improve your quality of life. For more information about pain, mind, and movement, the International Association for the Study of Pain offers a variety of resources, such as factsheets, webinars, journal articles, and resources relevant to people living with pain conditions.

Meet the Pain, Mind, and Movement Expert

Meet Professor Tasha Stanton

Tasha Stanton is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pain Neuroscience at the University of South Australia and leading expert in the field of pain assessment, pain science, and innovative treatments for pain. An active member of IASP, Professor Stanton serves on the Scientific Programming Committee (SPC) for the 2024 World Congress on Pain and as Treasurer of the Pain, Mind and Movement Special Interest Group (SIG). IASP wishes to thank Professor Stanton for volunteering her time and expertise helping to curate the content for this topic page.

IASP is Making an Impact

IASP is Making an Impact on Pain, Mind, and Movement

The International Association for the Study of Pain is making an impact on this topic with the Pain, Mind, and Movement SIG, which aims to improve patient care to those living with disabling pain, encourages basic and clinical research on how mind and movement affect disabling pain, and facilitates the translation of evidence into clinical practice and mediate the implementation of new diagnostics and treatments. Other related SIGs include the Musculoskeletal Pain SIG and Pain Education SIG.

IASP has dedicated several Global Year campaigns to related topics of pain, mind, and movement, including: