Chronic Pain Psychologist Sydney

Types of Pain

The term 'pain' describes any kind of unpleasant or uncomfortable sensation in the body.


There are many different types and causes of pain. These can be grouped into eight different categories:

  • Acute pain

  • Chronic pain

  • Breakthrough pain

  • Nerve pain

  • Phantom pain

  • Soft tissue pain

  • Referred pain.

Acute Pain

Acute pain starts suddenly and usually only lasts for a short period (i.e., minutes, hours, a few days, or occasionally a month or two).

It is usually caused by a specific event or injury, such as:

  • An accident or injury (like a fall, cut, rash, sting, bite or burn), 

  • Dental and medical procedures

  • Headache,

  • Labor and childbirth.

Acute pain usually signals something is wrong and the most appropriate response is to attend to the area, apply first aid, and if needed to seek a medical review.

Once any underlying medical condition has been addressed, acute pain is best addressed with basic pain relief medications, if needed. Once the condition resolves the pain also should resolve naturally.


Effective management of acute pain should prevent such conditions becoming chronic. 

Chronic pain or Persistent Pain

Pain in considered chronic when it persists longer than three months and is experienced most days.


Chronic pain may also start as acute pain, but continue long after the original injury has healed or cause of pain resolved.


Chronic pain can range from mild to severe and is associated with conditions such as:

  • Arthritis

  • Back pain

  • Cancer

  • Circulation problems

  • Diabetes

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Headache.

Chronic pain can severely affect a person's quality of life and can limit, or even prevent, their engagement in work, domestic, recreational, leisure and social activities if not managed well. Chronic pain can lead to low mood, depression, social withdrawal, a reduction in physical activities, and weight gain, which only make the pain worse.

Flare ups

Flare-up pain involves episodes of pain that occur in people already taking medications to relieve chronic pain.

Flare-up pain can be caused by many different factors. identifying triggers for flare-up pain and develop strategies to avoid, minimise or manage those triggers can help prevent or limit the impact of flare-ups. Stress is often a common trigger.

Nerve Pain

Nerve pain is caused by nerve damage or inflammation. Nerve pain can also be referred to as neuralgia or neuropathic pain.


Nerve pain is often experienced as a sharp, shooting, burning or stabbing pain. Some people report experiencing feelings like that of an electric shock. People who experience nerve pain can also be extremely sensitive to cold and touch.


Common causes of nerve pain include:

  • Alcoholism,

  • An injury to the brain, a nerve, or the spinal cord,

  • Cancer,

  • Circulation problems,

  • Diabetes,

  • Herpes zoster (shingles),

  • Limb amputation,

  • Multiple sclerosis,

  • Stroke, and

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Phantom Pain

Phantom pain is pain that is sensed as coming from a part of the body that is no longer present, such as when people have had a limb amputated. These are real pain sensations and can improve naturally with time.

Soft Tissue Pain

Soft tissue pain, or discomfort, results from damage or inflammation of the muscles, tissues, or ligaments. It is often associated with swelling or bruising.


Common causes of soft tissue pain include:

  • Back or neck pain,

  • Bursitis,

  • Fibromyalgia,

  • Rotator cuff injury,

  • Sciatic pain,

  • Sports injuries, such as sprains or strains, and

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

Learning to manage your pain is better
than your pain managing you.

Managing Pain

When you experience pain it is best to first consult your local treating doctor. The doctor will then review the underlying cause of the pain and provide appropriate medical management of the condition as well as the pain.

If the pain is not resolving or getting worse then it is valuable to seek a psychological review early. Too often are people referred for pain management a year or two after the onset of pain. This delay makes treatment of the pain more challenging. Learning psychological techniques to manage pain is always useful and can prevent pain becoming chronic in the first place.


People with chronic pain and flare-ups can also benefit from learning psychological techniques for pain management to improve their quality of life. 

How a chronic pain Psychologist can help

Our trauma psychologists will ask some questions about your history, circumstances, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. We might also use questionnaires to gather more information.


Together, we work towards an understanding of factors that contribute to your difficulties. A treatment plan is developed between the client and the psychologist. The psychologist will use an integrative approach including mindfulness and relaxation to help enhance mood and quality of life.

Through the process of depression counselling, the psychologist can also assist making lifestyle changes to enhance resilience to cope better and reduce symptoms of trauma.

When to access a chronic pain psychologist Sydney

It is best to seek help for you pain if you are:

  • Irritable or arguing more with family and friends,

  • Feeling overwhelmed, or not coping,

  • Cannot function normally,

  • Experiencing significant changes in weight or appetite,

  • Struggling with work and home duties,

  • Having trouble engaging in your normal recreational, leisure and social activities,

  • Becoming more withdrawn,

  • Having difficulty sleeping,

  • Increasing your use of substances, including prescribed medications,

  • Experiencing symptoms that are not improving or getting worse.

iflow psychology chronic pain psychologist Sydney services can assist. Just book an appointment or call us using the buttons below.


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02 6061 1144

48 Norton Street

Leichhardt NSW 2040


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