Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain

The symptoms of psychogenic pain can make daily life challenging. J. Flowers Health Institute can help. Read on to learn more.

Table of Contents

What is Psychogenic Pain?

Psychogenic pain is a condition that challenges our understanding of the mind-body connection. The symptoms of psychogenic pain present a complex and intriguing phenomenon.1


Psychogenic pain can be a debilitating condition that impacts a person’s quality of life. Oftentimes, this pain can lead to a cycle of distress and suffering.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain?

Psychogenic pain does not look the same for everyone. The symptoms of psychogenic pain can manifest in many different forms. Each individual will experience it in a different way based on their condition. 


There are some shared symptoms that are common, however, and they include the following:3


  • Pain that is not explained by a specific medical condition or injury
  • Pain that is not associated with observable physical abnormalities or physiological changes
  • Pain that is inconsistent or doesn’t follow a predictable pattern
  • Pain that is not alleviated by traditional medical treatments
  • Pain that may be associated with emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression
  • Pain that may worsen or improve with changes in mood or stress levels
  • Pain that may be accompanied by other psychological symptoms

It’s important to note that psychogenic pain is a complex condition. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to determine a cause and to develop a treatment plan.

How Does Psychogenic Pain Differ from Other Types of Pain?

Psychogenic pain differs from other types of pain in several ways. This includes the following:


  • Origin of pain
  • A lack of physical abnormalities
  • Inconsistency 
  • Poor response to treatment
  • Association with psychological distress

Origin of Psychogenic Pain

Psychogenic pain is influenced by psychological factors. This includes the following:

  • Emotional distress
  • Mental health conditions
  • Past traumatic experiences.

Other types of pain have a clear physical cause. These causes can come in many forms. These include injury or a medical condition.

Lack of Observable Physical Abnormalities

Medical conditions or injuries often have identifiable physical signs. They include swelling, redness, or structural abnormalities.


Psychogenic pain may lack observable physical abnormalities or physiological changes. This doesn’t mean there are no physical symptoms of psychogenic pain, however.


Symptoms of psychogenic pain can be inconsistent or unpredictable in nature. Pain may come and go, change in intensity or location, or not follow a specific pattern.


Other types of pain may have a more consistent presentation. This often aligns with the underlying condition or injury.

Response to Treatment

Psychogenic pain may not respond well to traditional medical treatments. These treatments include those such as pain medications or surgeries. This is because the underlying cause is psychological. 

How Does Treatment Involve Psychological Factors?

Treatment approaches for the symptoms of psychogenic pain often involve addressing psychological factors. 


Common approaches include the following:

  • Therapy
  • Stress management techniques 
  • Cognitive-behavioral interventions

Other types of pain may have specific medical interventions targeting the physical cause.

Association with Psychological Symptoms

Psychogenic pain is often accompanied by emotional distress. Psychological symptoms are less commonly associated with other types of pain.

Can Psychogenic Pain be Characterized by a Specific Location or Pattern of Pain?

Psychogenic pain does not have a specific physical cause. Despite this, it can still manifest in a localized area or follow a particular pattern. 


When it comes to pain patterns, psychogenic pain can vary widely among individuals. Some common symptoms of psychogenic pain include the following:


  • Widespread pain: The pain may be diffuse and affect several areas of the body. The pain may not have a clear anatomical explanation.
  • Non-anatomical distribution: The pain may follow unusual or non-anatomical patterns. This means it does not correspond to specific nerve distributions or body structures.
  • Changing or shifting pain: The pain may shift from one location to another. It may vary in intensity and quality over time.
  • Triggered pain: Certain psychological or emotional triggers may exacerbate or initiate the pain. Stress and anxiety are common triggers.

It’s important to note that psychogenic pain can also coexist with other types of pain. This can make it more challenging to identify.

Are There Physical Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain?

Psychogenic pain is influenced by psychological factors. It can also be associated with physical signs or symptoms. These physical manifestations are often related to the individual’s response to pain.


Some of the physical symptoms of psychogenic pain include the following:


  • Muscle tension or stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Somatic symptoms
  • Physical symptoms related to stress response.

These physical symptoms can also be present in other conditions. Experiencing these symptoms of psychogenic pain isn’t a guarantee that the condition is present.  At J. Flowers Health Institute, we can help you determine symptoms of psychogenic pain.

Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain in the Body

This type of pain may be felt in a specific region of the body. Symptoms most commonly crop up in the following areas:


  • Back
  • Neck 
  • Abdomen
  • Limbs

Psychogenic pain can also involve many areas or move between different locations over time.

How do Emotional or Psychological Factors Impact the Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain?

Emotional and psychological factors play a significant role in symptoms of psychogenic pain. Addressing these associated factors is an essential aspect of treatment.


Psychological interventions can help manage and reduce the impact of psychogenic pain. The following segments go over how emotional and psychological factors affect the symptoms of psychogenic pain.

Pain Amplification

Emotional distress can amplify the perception of pain. Examples of emotional distress include the following:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic stress

Negative emotions can lower pain thresholds. This can make even mild sensations feel more intense and uncomfortable.

Pain Modulation

Psychological factors can modulate the experience of pain. This means that on one hand, positive emotions can help reduce the perception of pain. Conversely, negative emotions and thoughts can intensify pain.

Pain Expression

Emotional and psychological factors can influence how individuals express and communicate their pain.


Some individuals with psychogenic pain may exhibit excessive pain behaviors. These behaviors can include the following:


  • Frequent doctor visits
  • Seeking multiple medical opinions
  • Demonstrating heightened emotional distress associated with pain

Pain Persistence

Some emotional and psychological factors can contribute to the persistence of psychogenic pain. These factors can include the following:


  • Psychological distress
  • Unresolved trauma
  • Maladaptive coping strategies

These factors can worsen an individual’s pain. This creates a cycle where pain leads to emotional distress, exacerbating the pain further.

Pain-Related Disability

Emotional and psychological factors can interfere with daily activities. These activities can include sleep, work, and social functioning. Over time, this effect can worsen the impact of the pain on an individual’s life.

How is the Intensity or Severity of Psychogenic Pain Measured?

Measuring the intensity or severity of psychogenic pain can be challenging. Symptoms of psychogenic pain can lack a clear physiological basis.4


Healthcare professionals may use various methods to assess the intensity of psychogenic pain. Some commonly used approaches will be discussed below.

Self-report Scales

The most common method to measure the severity of psychogenic pain is reliance on self-report scales. These are used for individuals to rate their pain intensity. 


They can include any of the following rating scales:


  • Numerical rating scale: This method involves patients rating their pain on a level from one to ten
  • Visual analog scale: This kind of scale has patients point to an image to describe their pain
  • Descriptive scale: Descriptive scales have patients describe pain intensity through words

These scales can be beneficial in rating the severity of symptoms of psychogenic pain.

Pain Diaries or Journals

Pain diaries or journals are tools used to track an individual’s pain experience over time. They are helpful for individuals with chronic pain conditions. Pain diaries are also useful to individuals undergoing pain management treatments.

How Pain Diaries Can Help You Manage and Understand Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain

Pain diaries provide a way to record the following information regarding a patient’s pain:


  • Intensity
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Triggers
  • Impact

Pain diaries provide a comprehensive overview of an individual’s pain experience. This allows healthcare professionals to tailor treatment plans to the patient.

Pain Questionnaires

Pain questionnaires are valuable tools used in healthcare settings. These questionnaires provide a standardized way of gathering information about a patient’s pain.


Here are some commonly used pain questionnaires:


  • Visual Analog Scale (VAS)
  • Numeric Rating Scale (NRS)
  • Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)
  • McGill Pain Questionnaire
  • Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS)
  • Oswestry Disability Index (ODI).

Functional Assessment

Assessing the impact of pain on daily functioning can indirectly provide insights into pain severity. Functional assessment can involve evaluating the effect pain has on the following: 


  • Physical activity
  • Work productivity
  • Social life
  • Quality of life

Clinical Assessment

Healthcare professionals may also conduct a clinical assessment regarding a patient’s pain. A clinical assessment takes into account the following from a patient:


  • Verbal expressions
  • Nonverbal cues
  • Observable pain behaviors
  • Physical examination findings

Doctors may consider factors such as pain-related disability and an individual’s distress level during an assessment. At J Flowers Health Institute, our goal is to be accurate during the clinical assessment to provide the best form of care during treatment. 

What Factors Can Influence Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain?

Psychogenic pain can be influenced by various factors, including the following:


  • Psychological factors
  • Stress and trauma
  • Central nervous system changes
  • Learned pain responses
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Social and environmental factors

It’s important to keep in mind that psychogenic pain is a complex condition influenced by multiple facets. Treatment should involve a holistic approach.

How Long Do the Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain Typically Last?

The duration of symptoms in psychogenic pain can vary widely among individuals. Some individuals may experience psychogenic pain for a short duration. Others may have chronic or recurrent symptoms.


In some cases, psychogenic pain may be transient and resolve relatively quickly. This is especially true if the underlying psychological factors are identified and addressed. With appropriate treatment, individuals may experience a reduction in pain intensity and frequency.


Psychogenic pain can also become chronic. This means it can last for months or even years. This can occur when the underlying psychological factors are more complex.

How Can the Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain be Managed or Relieved?

The symptoms of psychogenic pain can be managed and relieved through various treatments and therapies. Treatment typically involves addressing the physical and psychological aspects of pain. 


Let’s go over some commonly used interventions:

Psychological Therapies

Psychological therapies can be effective in managing and reducing psychogenic pain. The following therapies have proven to be helpful by addressing underlying psychological issues:


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
  • Psychodynamic Therapy

Mind-body Therapies

Mind-body therapies are therapeutic approaches to managing symptoms of psychogenic pain.  These therapies acknowledge that mental and emotional well-being can impact physical health. 


Mind-body therapies also recognize that physical health can impact emotional well-being. These therapies aim to restore balance to the mind and body.

Types of Holistic, Mind-Body Therapies

Here are some commonly practiced mind-body therapies:


  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Guided Imagery

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy may be beneficial in managing psychogenic pain. This is especially true when there are associated physical symptoms or muscle tension.


Techniques such as gentle stretching, strengthening exercises, and postural training can help to improve physical function and reduce pain.

Pharmacological Interventions

Medications may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms associated with psychogenic pain. These can include antidepressants for mood regulation or certain types of neuropathic pain medications for nerve-related pain.


Medications are often used along with other therapies. They should be carefully evaluated and monitored by a healthcare professional.

Education and Self-management Strategies

Learning about pain mechanisms, stress management techniques, and healthy lifestyle habits can empower individuals to actively manage their pain.


Self-management strategies may include several of the following:


  • Pacing activities 
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Maintaining a balanced lifestyle
  • Setting realistic goals

Multidisciplinary Pain Management Programs

Comprehensive pain management programs involve a multidisciplinary team. At J. Flowers Health, this is a team that may include several of the following healthcare professionals:


  • Physicians
  • Psychologists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists

Our team can provide a holistic approach in addressing symptoms of psychogenic pain. Our programs combine therapies, education, and self-management strategies to optimize outcomes.

Learn More About Managing the Symptoms of Psychogenic Pain with J. Flowers Health Institute

Psychogenic pain does not have a one-size-fits-all cure. Fortunately, J. Flowers Health Institute can help. 


Our specialized team understands the complexities of psychogenic pain. We offer care that is tailored to your needs.

Personalized Care

Our expert clinicians will work with you to uncover the psychological factors contributing to your pain. From there, we will help develop a personalized treatment plan.


When it comes to symptoms of psychogenic pain, you are not alone. Our team uses a holistic approach that personalizes your care. 

Reach Out to J. Flowers Health Institute

Institute is here to help you find answers and relief for your symptoms of psychogenic pain. Take the first step towards relief and reclaim control over your life. 


Contact J. Flowers Health Institute today to schedule a consultation and learn about the symptoms of psychogenic pain. Together, we can help you find the relief you’ve been seeking.