After an orthopedic injury, one often experiences the following trajectory, in order of increasing time since incurring the injury:

  1. pain: acute discomfort, often intermittent (e.g., when moving the injured part)
  2. ache: persistent but sub-acute discomfort
  3. something which I can only presently describe as "awareness without discomfort"

Is there a better or more exact term, preferably one in clinical use (i.e., that an English-speaking medical professional would be expected to understand) for the third item? What I mean, why I ask:

I recently fell on my left knee, subsequently experiencing the trajectory above, as I have all-too-often in the past. (Once should be enough !-) The difference between "ache" and "pain" is well discussed here. However, for quite a while after the injured part ceases to be uncomfortable, I experience a continuous awareness of the part, which differs from my uninjured parts as follows:

I'm guessing that, most of the time, you (the reader) is just not aware of most parts of your body. Certainly I am not: if I want to "check in on" (e.g.) my uninjured right knee, I need to "bring my attention to it" (a phrase with which yogi/nis will probably be aware). OTOH, currently and for many days now, I can feel my injured left knee, without either effort or direction, and the feeling is not uncomfortable. (Hence the awareness is neither inexplicable nor discomforting, in contrast to this question.)

Am I alone in this experience? If not, is there a well-accepted, preferably clinical, term for this?

  • You might call that sensitivity or just awareness.
    – Robusto
    May 31, 2015 at 19:50
  • You're certainly not alone in it, but I don't know a word for it. There's a big region at the start of a problem when I'm aware of my back in some attention sense, but it isn't at all a negative experience in itself (except for what is likely to happen later).
    – Dan
    May 31, 2015 at 20:16
  • @Dan Sheppard: "it isn't at all a negative experience in itself (except for what is likely to happen later)" Agreed. It's kinda like my left knee is continually reminding me, "Try not to be stupid again, pal."
    – TomRoche
    Jun 1, 2015 at 23:12

4 Answers 4


How about sensation?

a feeling that you get when something affects your body

  • ..a sensation in my left knee

It connotes awareness without necessarily connoting pain.


The patient is said to be conscious of that area.

See http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/conscious_1 This gives an example mentioning a tooth.

  • extra credit for posting a citation--this could be the answer unless anything better arrives
    – TomRoche
    Jun 1, 2015 at 23:14

What you're describing would barely register on the pain scale.

It sounds like it's not quite in the realm of being a nagging pain (which my dictionary defines as persistently annoying).

I would go with sensible, in the meaning of perceiving through the sense or mind, or even perceptible to the senses. So:

While the pain of the contusion faded after two days, I was sensible of my injured knee for almost a week.


Consider the concepts of proprioception and kinesthesia, closely related terms that relate to awareness of the state and position of the body and its parts. In your case you might be said to be experiencing a heightened kinesthetic sense.

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