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Pain in elite athletes—neurophysiological, biomechanical and psychosocial considerations: a narrative review
  1. Brian Hainline1,
  2. Judith A Turner2,
  3. J P Caneiro3,
  4. Mike Stewart4,
  5. G Lorimer Moseley5
  1. 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  2. 2 University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, DC, USA
  3. 3 School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Curtin, Western Australia
  4. 4 East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Canterbury, Great Britain
  5. 5 Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Brian Hainline, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), PO Box 6222, Indianapolis, IN 46206, USA; bhainline{at}


Pain is a common problem among elite athletes and is frequently associated with sport injury. Both injury and pain interfere with peak performance. Pain management should be based on the physiological, anatomical and psychosocial influences on the individual’s pain and is not equivalent to injury management, which focuses on musculoskeletal recovery and return-to-play. This narrative review provides a foundation for understanding the differing causes and types of pain in elite athletes, thereby serving as a springboard for comprehensive pain management.

  • sports physician
  • athlete
  • behaviour
  • physiology

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.