Pain in elite athletes-neurophysiological, biomechanical and psychosocial considerations: a narrative review

Br J Sports Med. 2017 Sep;51(17):1259-1264. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097890.


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.

Keywords: athlete; behaviour; physiology; sports physician.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Athletic Injuries / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Return to Sport