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Pain serves a purpose. It alerts us to damage in our body, which can be caused by, for example, a wound, inflammation, illness or a broken leg. Pain ensures we take action to prevent further damage and let the body heal. There are two types of pain, acute pain, which starts suddenly, and chronic or persistent pain.

There’s physical pain and psychological or emotional pain, which is often referred to as mental health problems. Sometimes there’s a clear cause for this kind of pain, for example a traumatic experience. In other cases you don’t really know what’s going on. You do know that something’s wrong, you’re struggling, but you can’t quite put it into words. These problems often lead to physical pain, such as headache or stomach ache.

Your GP can usually help when you’re in pain. You can find a GP near you using your postcode.

Unexplained pain

Sometimes pain has no clear cause. The pain is real, but we don’t know where it comes from. This is known as medically unexplained pain or a medically unexplained somatic symptom. Click here for more information (in Dutch).