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What Is Idiopathic Pain?

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Updated June 15, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Definition: Idiopathic pain is the term for pain that has no apparent underlying cause. This type of pain is not nociceptive, neuropathic or even psychogenic. Though its origin is often a mystery, idiopathic pain is very real.

Idiopathic pain may be made worse by psychological distress, and is more common in people who already have a pain disorder such as TMJ and fibromyalgia.

Idiopathic pain, like psychogenic pain, is often more difficult to treat than nociceptive or neuropathic pain.

Also Known As: intractable pain, pain of unknown origin
Examples:
A person who has back pain with no apparent cause may be diagnosed as having idiopathic back pain.
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