As a physical therapist, I get this question all the time. Sometimes, everything seems like it hurts. Other times, you can't seem to get a deep enough tissue massage! So, how can you differentiate? And does PAIN always mean something is "wrong" or "injured?"
Well, it depends. Pain is a signal from your brain and it's trying to tell you something about the tissues that are experiencing the stress (good or bad). It certainly does NOTalways mean grave injury. My best example: have you ever gotten a papercut or stepped on a Lego? OUCH. But, for the most part, not that serious.
For me, discomfort is a sensation that I've felt before or that does not feel like it makes me entirely stop my activity and *worry* or think about it. Pain, especially a familiar pain, makes me stop and wonder what my body didn't like.
I figured I would share some common descriptors and pain behaviors to help.. but I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Here are some words I've heard to differentiate the two with typical musculoskeletal or neurogenic symptoms:
I get jaw discomfort from unconsciously clenching throughout the day. I wouldn’t call it pain but definitely something that I am consciously bringing to awareness to loosen and stretch my mouth open throughout the day.