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Pain words used to communicate suffering were analyzed to identify specific dimensions of back pain. The words were obtained from a group of 131 patients suffering from back pain who described their discomfort on a standardized 87-item pain questionnaire. The results indicate that words descriptive of back pain are not associated in completely random ways. When patients complain of back pain, their report falls into 7 distinguishable patterns. The major pattern accounts for 38% of the variance and refers almost entirely to emotional discomfort. The second pattern accounts for 9% of the variance and is a mixed emotional and sensory factor. The remaining 5 patterns account for 29% of the variance and constitute an entirely sensory class of factors.