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Why Some People Feel Pain More Than Others

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Why Some People Feel Pain More Than Others

Why some people feel pain more than others…

Have you ever wondered why some people seem impervious to pain when others wince at the slightest injury? Or why men typically have higher pain threshold when women must deal with the extreme pain of giving birth? A 2002 study which looked into the differences between men’s and women’s pain thresholds may hold the answers.

First off one must understand how the body deals with pain. Study researcher William Maixner, PhD, DDS, director of the Center for Neurosensory Disorders at the University of North Carolina, explained that when the body is injured it releases opioid substances like beta endorphins – the body’s natural pain-killer.

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Why Pain Thresholds Differ

The study found that many women’s bodies release less beta endorphins than men’s bodies do, translating into a lower pain threshold. Contrary to popular belief women do not have higher pain thresholds in order to cope with giving birth, instead a woman’s production of beta endorphins temporarily increases during childbirth.

The fact the women produce less beta endorphins than men could explain why woman are more likely to suffer from condition such as migraines, and why they seem to suffer more acutely after an operation. However individual differences seem to be due to genetic variations.

Other studies suggest that pain thresholds fluctuate, and that this could directly be linked to stress. Researchers have found that tragic life events such as losing a loved one can heighten ones sensitivity to pain.

Despite individual pain thresholds being dictated by your genes, there are things you can do to help you deal with pain.

Maixner says it’s important to inform your doctor if you have a low pain threshold so they can take extra measures during and after procedures.

He also advised practicing meditation and deep breathing. Deep breathing can reduce the production of epinephrine – a chemical that increases sensitivity to pain.


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