I think everyone feels them differently. A REAL contraction would most likely feel like a painful tightening of the uterus, sometimes accompanied by back pain.
My contractions usually feel like my uterus getting ROCK HARD, and pain radiates from the front, around my left side to my back. But that's just me
Try lying down on your left side and drinking water. If the pain subsides and contractions seem to stop, it's most likely not the real deal.
I can tell when it is a contraction/braxton hick contraction cause my stomach gets hard. You can feel it get hard from the outside too! But I've been having a bunch of menstral-like cramps lately. I plan on bringing it up to my doctor on thursday even though I'm sure its normal.