Because there is no objective way to measure chronic pain, people who suffer from it often struggle to convince others that their pain is real.
Three months after breaking the fourth cervical vertebra in his neck in a freak hockey accident at the age of 17, Kurt Gengenbach began experiencing a new and spectacular kind of torment.
He started feeling pain in his left pectoral muscle - a constant burning, pins-andneedles sensation that slowly spread to his right shoulder, across his chest, down into his abdomen and finally through his legs and into his feet.
Gengenbach is a quadriplegic. He cannot move his arms or his legs. But he can feel pain. His ankles feel as if they're bound in thick, bonecrushing casts. A Kleenex against his bare shoulder can feel like a blowtorch. The skin on his chest is so hypersensitive he can't breathe deeply to relax when the pain hits, the way his therapist told him to, because expanding his chest makes his skin stretch, and it's torture. "Basically I'm paralysed by pain," he says...