Many people are unaware that pain is not physically present in the area of the body where it is felt. Pain is a construct of the mind, an interpretation of the signals that the brain receives from various parts of the body. The brain somewhat logically, and at the same time somewhat arbitrarily, does its best to interpret the messages it receives from the nervous system; translating them to pressure, temperature, pain, or some other sensation. Take for example the case of phantom limb pain where someone who has lost a limb can still feel a pain or an itch in their missing limb.
The amount of pain we feel is strongly related to how and where we focus our attention in response to the pain. If we ignore the pain and focus our attention on other parts of the body, or the task at hand, the pain will diminish in intensity. If we dwell on the pain, the brain will think we want more information and increase the intensity of the pain.
Consider the example of a footballer focused on winning a grand final or an Olympic athlete competing for a gold medal. These elite athletes have developed the skill to push through injury and extreme pain by focusing their attention so completely on their goal that their conscious mind has no resources left to perceive pain. At the other extreme, a boring day at the office and a paper cut becomes a major drama as it demands our full attention.
What this means for us is that pain is malleable and responsive to hypnosis. This allows us to effectively change the way pain is interpreted and represented in the mind.