Most of the time, pain serves us well in that it signals to us that damage has happened or is about to happen. It helps us to protect ourselves from further injury and take care of our bodies. But this system can set off alarms when there is no actual disease or injury.

It’s understandably frustrating when pain is real yet tests and investigations to identify damage come back negative or don’t give a clear explanation about the pain. People may feel that they are not being believed, that better tests and treatments have not been carried out, or that their pain is not being taken seriously.

Neuroscience research can explain what has happened to the nervous system. The nervous system is oversensitive and continues to behave as though there is ongoing disease or injury, so the person still experiences pain.

Pain is a body-mind phenomenon, and thoughts and feelings can modify pain experiences in profound ways. Thoughts and feelings can also influence the choices that you make, e.g. how you approach daily activities, or what you do during a flare-up. These choices will in turn influence your pain experiences.

People who have experienced pain for a long time may find their lives affected in many ways. Some common difficulties are:

  • Not being able to continue with hobbies and sport
  • Feeling stiffer and weaker
  • Finding it difficult to remain at work
  • Not being able to make plans, for example, meetings at work or meeting friends
  • Not being able to take part in social activities
  • Finding it difficult to deal with increases in pain
  • Worrying about the future
  • Loss of self confidence and feeling low

The Pain Management team aims to improve your quality of life and help you do more of the things you want to do.

More resources for pain management

Health talk online has some very informative videos from patients perspectives about how pain management has been useful to them.

The Pain Toolkit is designed to help people develop pain management skills

We work closely with professional bodies such as the Pain Society and you can find a lot of useful information about pain and its management on the website.

Stretching guide

This video has been designed to help you to feel more confident in being able to stretch and exercise, an important skill in pain management.

This is an outpatient service. Once a referral is accepted by the pain management centre the patient booking team will be in touch about the first appointment with one of the assessment team.


The assessment appointment enables us to consider how pain is affecting a particular individual and to develop the most appropriate intervention plan for managing it.


Our partners

We work closely with many teams in UCL Partners who may all make a referral to our service.

  • Spinal Surgeons

  • Palliative Care

  • Uro-neurology

  • Gynaecology including UCLH endometriosis centre

  • Gastroenterology

  • Haematology (Joint Red Cell Unit)

  • Colorectal Surgeons

  • Rheumatology UCH

  • Eastman Dental

  • Headache Services at the NHNN

  • Great Ormond Street – transition of young people