What Does Pain Look Like?

What Does Pain Look Like?

What would pain look like if it had to be described visually?

Renowned visual artist Trina Merry met with eight people living with chronic pain from across the country and used body pain to tell their stories and articulate their experiences.

These works will be on display in an exhibition at New York City’s Oculus from December 12-15. You will also be able to view it on social medial through social media and ThisIsPain.Com which will be unveiled this week.

That’s right what their pain looks like painted on their bodies.

BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (Nasdaq: BDSI) (“BDSI”) launched this initiative that aims to improve the lives of Americans living with chronic pain.

“People living with chronic pain face unimaginable hurdles and struggles in their daily lives and I believe that we can alleviate some of the challenges they face by first drawing attention to what it is really like to live with pain.” stated Herm Cukier, CEO of BDSI. “We know that change is borne out of a communal desire to act and that is exactly what we need to achieve to impact the lives of those living with chronic pain.”

Those who have gone to a doctor to explain their pain or tried to tell a co-worker or even a family member what pain is often are frustrated by the lack of understanding.

As Penney Cowan, founder of the American Chronic Pain Association puts it, “literally painting the picture can help family and friends better understand and help eradicate the stigma that often comes with chronic pain.

In a recent interview with the National Pain Report, Cukier, Cowan and Mandy Francis, a Board-Certified Nurse Practitioner stressed that this campaign—which will have other elements—will go on for some time—including celebrities and artists who have chronic pain.

Francis believes these photos can be used to make sure “the picture of chronic pain is ingrained and encourage more conversations between patients and their providers.”

For BDSI’s Cukier the goal of the campaign is clear.

“The campaign is intended to drive change.”

The campaign is designed to achieve four things:

  • Wider societal recognition of chronic pain as a disease state, not a symptom;
  • Policy change to increase access to safe and effective treatment options for chronic pain individuals living with chronic pain;
  • Increased research funding to improve existing treatments and develop innovative therapies for individuals living with chronic pain;
  • Fairer treatment and representation in the workplace.

Penney Cowan of the ACPA says of the exhibition, “If we can encourage people to take a moment out of their day to learn about the disease and really see how this disease impacts those living with chronic pain , we believe we can start to generate the support we need to effect real change.”

What does your pain look like?

Tell us in the commentary section.

Photo CreditTrina Merry 
Photo CaptionThis Is Pain: Artwork by Trina Merry 

Event: This Is Pain: An Exhibition by Trina Merry Art Exhibit
Date: Thursday, December 12th – Sunday, December 15th
Time: 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Social: #ThisIsPain @ThisIsPain

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Former A.G. Jeff Sessioms threats to Pain Doctors and Pharmacies are Harming Millions of Long Term Intractable, Chronic and Cancer Pain Patients. These are responsible patients who have been treated properly for long term, 27 years for me, until the “Opioid Epidemic” “Heroin Epidemic” in reality ! 47,000 Street O.Drs with 6 or more substances. These are Not Pain Patients monitored by a Doctor.

Everyone is an ADDICT Now. Pain Doctors , Out Of FEAR , Stopped or cut back every Patient’s Medications. The Hormonal Imbalance from untreated or under-treated Severe Pain for up to 2 years, caused me to lose 1/3rd of my weight, 160 lbs. to 110 lbs. I was collapsing, put into a nursing home and given the last dose of pain medication that worked and I began recovering very well and after 4 weeks they sent me home with a Palliative care Team and a referral to a Pain Doctor who said would continue my regimen but decided to Detox me, then was not available, I got another Dr. same thing , Gave me Addiction Medicine. Yells at me “You’re an Addict. I said, “No, I have Severe Pain and 20 MRIs that document a severely injured Back, neck and Spine progressively degenerating or getting worse and is Obviously the reason for complaints of Pain. The FDA and CDC have issued warnings to Doctors and other health care workers, Pharmacies etc, However, Doctors refuse to read these warnings. FDA and CDC are relying on Pain Advocates , like me, but no one is listening. They are still in a Panic of Fear!
Sessions has Scared every Doctor into Prohibition. No Pain Medication for anyone. If you are taking any pain meds, you are an ADDICT! The South of the US have a Bravado that they can “Out – Drink Alcohol, do more Meth , coke or anything!” and here comes Heroin. 74,000 opioid deaths. Never mind your pain,

Caroline Bellis

black dense scribbled lines w/intermittent harsh vertical streaks of red and yellow.
Oh, how nice, she’s working through her pain with art therapy. She should be able to do without opioids now

‘She’s running out of time’ she said,
Oh come on, we know, it’s all in her head.
I’m tired, I can’t play this game anymore!
I’m screaming for help they keep shutting the door.

A lifelong battle with brain chemistry,
For a time it was fine, why not let that be?
Meditation is good and so is moist heat,
But for chemical balance, drugs they’re hard to beat.

I’m losing a battle with anxiety,
plus pain equals more, it’s so plain to see.
But no relief can be given since now its been proved,
that drug addicts od, and so therefore you’re screwed.

They’re scared and weak and they don’t give a damn.
They hide behind policy, their oath it’s a sham.
It matters not that I’m lying in bed,
hoping and praying – I wish I was dead.

My brain might explode or my heart just give out,
my teeth they can crumble, too bad they all shout!
If you die from something else, something like that,
it can’t be OUR fault, oh, nothing like that!

See, since there’s a chance of a million to one,
that I’ll catch a cold and then somehow be done,
I must give up my life, all my hopes and my dreams,
so doctors won’t fret about lawyerly schemes.

I could be having the time of my life,
instead I’m a bundle of nerves pain and strife.
The doctors won’t agree with my reality,
they rather prefer total conformity.

I guess I’ll shut down maybe go to the tank,
Maybe they’ll surprise me – it’s all been a prank.
Instead of fear I will totally zone out.
‘Catatonic?’ they’ll ask? Of that there’s no doubt.

‘Too bad’ they will say as they turn to walk out,
Next case come on in, you may never walk out.
No apogies given, no regrets in their head,
She got her wish, we helped her! And now she is dead.

When we have Equity companies owning hospitals & doctors offices telling them how to treat & what to give or not to give our lives will never be better. I went to the ER today bc I heard the 2nd pop & the 2nd tear again , the pain was more than I could bear any longer supposably I developed tendonitis after having hip surgery. The PA was very nice but said unless I was having a heart attack I was not going to get an MRI. I said well how do you know what extent I have torn tendon bc I can’t bear weight. He just repeated himself. I received a 5 mg Percocet & a Toradol shot which I said I cannot tolerate that GI issues & received antispasmodic shot. Also I’ve been dealing with my dog being sick for 4 months. I’m looking for a vet on the web a lot have added to the website anti opiate policies. So now even our dog is going to have to suffer if it has cancer. Medicine has moved backwards instead of forward. At least you could treat pain in the 1800’s. There is no reason to even go see a doctor or ER BC they don’t do any treatment anymore or test. I might as well stay at home & took Aleve. I’ve been living in severe pain ever since surgery 8 mo’s now & they say I will be healed up in 6 to 8 wks I’m way past that, when I tell them that they just said that it takes other people longer. What??? Instead of finding out what’s wrong. Surgery caused more chronic pain that I didn’t have before.


Do you want to know a pain is like it’s like thunder lightning fire explosion all at one time imagine that going through your body and then when your lowered on your medication it starts to get even worse no one wants to live like that no one then you get allergic to a medication to help you with another problem dad even makes it worse it’s like the Towering Inferno imagine that it’s like the Towering Inferno Nails driving into your skin the muscle breathing on its own and just squeezing the nerve till it has exploded I hope I described it in a way that you understand it is awful and it’s not a good quality of life I hope these DNA FDA FBI and whoever is involved in these opioids realize what they’re doing to patients they’re killing patients off one by one by Suicide because they can’t get the medications they need something needs to be done thank you Sheila G Gomez

Joseph Lane

What a great idea!
My pain looks like the former planet known as Pluto when it is isolated in the outer solar system and when it is being bombarded with meteor’s. Cold, lonely and intense.


Wow! Maureen M. described my pain except my low back pain isn’t to this point yet. I got Cauda Equina syndrome after a surgery I just had. I do have a few more symptoms but I’m sure she can’t list them all. I now am in the process of being diagnosed with arachnoiditis. I am mad because these are 2 new diseases that I would never have had if it weren’t for the surgery. And now they won’t treat me!


My pain keeps me from sitting, standing and walking and I want the pain medicine that worked for me in the past. But because of this pain crisis and increased stigma on pain I can’t get it. I was allowed two weeks of proper pain medications after major neurosurgery to remove two Schwannomas and perform multiple laminotomies and laminectomies. I was told that the surgeon could no longer treat me yet would not provide somebody that would help me. Just go to the pain clinic and they provide the same medication o was prior to surgery even though my body felt like it was sawed in half and nobody would help me!
I appreciate the acknowledgment but I would appreciate it much more if you em would ask that our medications be resumed. We won’t last much longer!

Kim McMullen

Thank you ! your art work is very ” right on” I guess I would say if I had to take a picture of pain. Your work is beautiful if it wasn’t for pain behind it. Thank you tho for your help in trying to show the world what a day in pain may look like /feel like.

Maureen M.

I’m happy to see that exhibits like this are happening (especially in a big city like New York!)
to further educate the public about our lives in Pain. Best of all to the presenters!

As for how to describe my pain…. We all know how difficult this is to do.
But, my ‘most bothersome’ never-ending, relentless Chronic pain is most focused on spine related pain issues (long story!) but I often tell others that…
it feels like there is a little person/or perhaps an army! in the center of my lumbar trying to fight and dig his way out! with sharp scraping tools, and that the land that it stands on is covered with barbed wire ripping my tissues which extends deep deep into my sacrum and radiating over to both hips.
And that all of this puts major pressure in those areas because it is not successful in breaking through my body and freeing me of the painful turmoil going on in there.
The CRPS in my left upper leg and anterior thigh/hip area and in my right in my right lower leg/foot feels like the most hurtful, inflamed, burning bruise I could ever imagine. I am unable to lie on my left side (ever!). The list goes on but those are the two most prevalent issues for me.

Darlene A Hinkle

Hi I am Darlene A Hinkle I published A book titled Through the Eyes of Pain the Beast is Revealed it has my 72 color pencil drawings of my journey through pain pictures done in 1992 when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia the first one pain is attached I was so glad to see some else describing it I would love to send a book please let me know if I can thank you