Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Painful Lessons

What I’ve learned from twenty years of studying pain

Paul Ingraham • 7m read

This is a repository of some of the major lessons acquired in my career trying to help people — and myself — with chronic pain.

I cringe when I think back on my first several years as a massage therapist, selling myself to patients as a chronic pain troubleshooter. I knew less than John Snow, less than nothing — my mind was cluttered with simplistic misconceptions that I had to actively clean up over the years.

I didn’t know anything listed on this page until at least 2010 — when I retired from massage therapy.

Everything listed here today is something that I am now quite sure of, the major concepts I now more or less take for granted after twenty years of constantly investigating the legitimacy of popular ideas about treating painful problems. The highest certainty, and the greatest importance.

Some disclaimers

I will not defend any of these points in any detail here (though I do link to more information in many cases). There are, of course, lots of caveats. The devil is always in the details. For now, this list is quite incomplete and glib. Just how confident am I in these things? All knowledge is provisional, but my confidence about each of these things is rooted deeply. The sun will probably come up tomorrow, and I am just as likely to believe these things in five years. (And if I’m wrong about that, I can’t wait to find out how.)

The lessons

About Paul Ingraham

Headshot of Paul Ingraham, short hair, neat beard, suit jacket.

I am a science writer in Vancouver, Canada. I was a Registered Massage Therapist for a decade and the assistant editor of for several years. I’ve had many injuries as a runner and ultimate player, and I’ve been a chronic pain patient myself since 2015. Full bio. See you on Facebook or Twitter., or subscribe:


linking guide

1,500 words