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Crossing your fingers can dull physical pain, study finds
Confuse your brain and dull the pain. Thanks, science!
Crossing your fingers confuses your brain long enough to mess with feelings of hot, cold, and pain, a new study has found, offering a brief respite if you happen to sustain a physical injury in the area.
The study makes use of a classic pain experiment called the thermal grill illusion, which involves subjecting the index and ring fingers to heat (40°C/104°F) while applying a cold sensation (20°C/68°F) to the middle finger using special thermal pads.
In the experiment, if a person just touches the hot or cold thermal pads, they will feel only hot or cold sensations respectively. But touching them together creates the illusion of burning heat, as Hannah Devlin explains at The Guardian:
"The illusion works because the hot sensation in the outer two fingers blocks the activity in a certain cooling receptor under the skin and this "inhibition" spills out to the surrounding area of the hand.
Activity in the cooling receptors in turn normally blocks the activity of pain receptors that are sensitive to extreme cold. As a result only mild cold is now needed to produce a painful burning sensation in the middle finger - hence the illusion."
So effectively, the simultaneous heating and cooling creates an illusion because the brain is trying to reconcile a three-way interaction between the nerve pathways that are trying to send it signals about warmth, cold and pain, all at once.
The thermal grill illusion is the perfect solution for scientists wanting to experiment with and research pain sensations in humans, because it creates the feeling without causing any lasting physical damage.
So could people with chronic pain learn to use simple positioning and carefully applied stimuli to dull painful sensations and help them to better live through debilitating disorders? That’s what they are going to try and figure out now. In the meantime,The Guardian has got some great advice to get you through your next barefoot LEGO encounter:
"Previously, scientists have shown that swearing when you hurt yourself is not only a vocal expression of agony, but that it also reduces pain. The study, by the University of Keele, found that when people were free to let rip verbally, they could cope with mild pain for nearly 50 percent longer than those who said neutral words, such as 'table'."
Cursing is the best medicine, apparently.
How to get rid off knee pain permanently? How to get good sleep in the night by not waking around 2.30-3.00 AM in the morning and sleeping till 6.00 AM At least? How to get rid off body pain which is occurring throughout the body? How to avoid sleep during day time by not feeling tiredness?
My father was suffering a lot from right hand pain total hand. Since 3-4 months but it was not regular. Any medicine to cure?
I am suffering from high fever and body pain and also feeling cold. Some said that these are the symptoms of DENGUE, but I don't have any kind of rashes on my skin as they are one of the symptoms of Dengue. So please guide me what should be my diet and precautions to prevent any serious illness.
I am 32 years old with 42ff breast. Earlier I was 38 dd. I suffer from severe back and shoulder pain. I also have a genetic blood disorder. Will breast reduction help and how much will it cost? Kindly advise.
I am 46 years old female in which age my monthly period will stop in this days I am getting lot of pain in my stomach and in my back body pain please help me.
Aside from the obvious problem with chronic pain - there are many other downsides to chronic pain that are important to know about. For those living with and enduring chronic pain, pass this along to your loved ones to help them understand and be supportive.
1. Pain is rarely 'all in your head'
People in pain are often treated as if their pain is actually made up or greatly exaggerated. While it is true that pain is subjective (people simply perceive pain differently) and some people may report pain because they have other agendas - for the vast majority, the pain is real and present. It is not made up. The problem is that chronic pain is often caused by types of anatomical problems that are difficult or impossible to diagnose using standard medical tests, and pain cannot be diagnosed like other medical problems (such as a broken bone that can be seen on an X-ray).
Fortunately, most in the medical community are now trying to understand and appreciate that chronic pain is real and needs to be treated and managed differently.
2. Pain is not the only problem - it breeds other health problems
Thoughts and emotions related to the pain also can come into play and aggravate or alleviate the pain. For example,depression, which is a serious disease, can worsen the pain. Sleep problems again caused by the pain, can also make the pain worse. And increased pain usually leads to increased sleep problems.
Often all conditions related to the pain need to be treated concurrently in order for the patient to get any relief.
3. Pain is deeply personal
Everyone experiences and expresses pain differently. Any two people with the exact same health condition are likely to feel and express their pain in unique ways depending on a number of factors. Newer chronic pain theories now have physiological explanations for how and why people experience pain differently.
When it comes to back pain, this is especially true. Two people can have the same type of herniated disc, but one feels only slight discomfort and the other feels intense, burning pain that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. It is also not uncommon that no anatomical cause of the pain can be detected.
Why is this point important? It means that chronic pain often needs to be treated as the primary problem, which is different than the conventional medical approach of identifying and treating the underlying problem causing the pain.
4. Chronic pain is its own beast
Unlike acute pain, which functions as a warning signal (e.g. I just stepped on a nail - better move my foot!), chronic pain does not have any useful function. It just is.
Often, chronic pain is caused by nerves that continue to send pain signals to the brain. When dealing with chronic pain, often one of the most frustrating things is that there is nothing to 'fix'. It just exists in your body.
5. Chronic pain is LONELY
After awhile, many people with chronic pain - especially pain that is caused by a condition that cannot be seen - begin to feel isolated. Here the Internet has done a world of good helping people in pain connect with others in similar situations and find a supportive peer group through online communities of people in similar situations.
Having a clearer understanding of how chronic pain works, as well as the central role that the mind plays in the experience of chronic pain, is becoming more mainstream in the medical community. Patients who start to gain more understanding of their own chronic pain may also benefit in terms of gaining increased emotional support, more effective and sustainable pain management, and even possibly harnessing the power of their minds to assist in coping with the pain.