by Elorm Kojo Ntumy

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No one enjoys being in pain. For starters, it is extremely uncomfortable and pain medication can be very expensive. Nevertheless, there are times where it is simply unavoidable, but here are some proven techniques, which can raise your pain threshold and make you impervious to pain, well almost impervious anyway.

Nature

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Humans are inherently connected to nature; subsequently, exposure to nature, even for a short while, goes a long way in aiding the body heal itself. Sufferers of chronic pain or patients recovering from medical procedures can significantly reduce the amount of pain they experience, but more importantly, shorten their recovery time by simply improving the quality of light they are exposed to. Pink Floyd concertgoers are relatively pain-free, is what we’re saying.

What researchers have discovered is that patients recovering from surgery who are exposed to natural lights require less pain medication than patients in dimmer rooms. Patients in brighter rooms also recovered from medical procedures quicker, thus spending less time in hospitals as a whole. The effect is not exclusive to natural lighting alone; artificial lighting produces the same effect as well. Additionally, looking at images or pictures of nature also aids in pain relieve. In situations where there is limited or no access to natural scenery, for example when holed up in a windowless room, looking at pictures of nature or listening to natural sounds can significantly boost your pain threshold.

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“Oh, nature…..you make me forget I was shot in the chest…..”

Cursing

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We all love to swear now and then, hell not only does it feel good, matter of fact it is downright therapeutic. FUCK! See? Plenty of mothers across the world would probably not want to hear this, but science says swearing can actually be a positive thing especially when it comes to the issue of pain management.

In a series of experiments, scientists subjected a group of volunteers to a cold compressor test(a standard pain test where volunteers place their hands in a bucket of cold water for as long as possible). One group of volunteers had the option of swearing as they kept their hands in the iced water while the second group was made to repeat a neutral word. Then both groups switched places and replicated the experiment using the word they had not previously tried. It was discovered that over 70 percent of the volunteers who swore withstood the pain of the cold compressor test longer than those who did not and they kept their hands in the water 31 seconds longer.

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“Motherfuckingassbitchqueef!!!……………ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh”

Though researchers do not exactly understand why this happens, they hypothesize that swearing triggers the release of the brain’s natural pain relieving compounds (opioids) which eventually numbs the body to the pain. There is a catch though: just like most pain relieving drugs, repeated swearing could result in addiction and an increased tolerance to its effects. Meaning you would need to curse more and more to achieve the same result. A true-life fuck-addict.

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“Can you just front me a couple ‘motherfuckers’?”

 

Coughing

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Getting children and some adults, to be honest, to sit still for injections can be a Herculean task because let’s face it, no one likes being stabbed and prodded with long skinny needles. Except a female hedgehog, RIGHT??!! GUYS??

However, parents can rest easy now: scientists have found a solution to this problem. According to researchers who performed a study on 68 children between the ages of 4-5 , coughing  just as the needle is inserted into the skin can go a long way to reduce the intensity of the pain experienced. This simple yet effective technique has been proven to work much better than most commonly used distraction techniques like listening to music, hypnosis, cartoons, etc.

Coughing to reduce pain also works for dress changes and when blood is being withdrawn from the body. Researchers do not know why and how this works, but they speculate that coughing stimulates your fast nerve fibers, which temporarily overrides the pain of the injection, travelling along slow nerve fibers across your body. They also speculate that the act of coughing causes a temporary increase in your blood pressure, which provides a brief, but effective relief from pain.

Smelling Something Sweet

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It is a well known fact in medical circles that the amount of pain you experience is affected by a variety of external factors, some of which you may or may not have control over. Subsequently, no two people feel the same amount of pain even when the source of pain is the same. Scientists have recently discovered that smelling something sweet, like candy or cake can increase the pain threshold of the body.

This is because our brains have learned to associate sweet smells with pleasure and release pain-numbing chemicals as a sort of reward. For the pain relieving effect to be activated though, the smell has to be that of something sweet so for instance, the smell of your favorite perfume, however pleasant, would not produce the same effect.

Oh, one more thing, the effect only works for women; sorry guys!!

Your Posture

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You have most likely been told all your life to quit slouching like you’re battling the headwind of a hurricane. Guess what, your mom was right all along. Aside from the obvious health benefits of keeping a good posture, it also helps you deal better with pain. Keeping your back straight or adopting physical postures associated with power, such as folding your arms across your chest, for example, can influence your sensitivity to pain. Other power postures that have not yet been tested: hands on hips(the teapot), and the New Jersey state gesture, the masturbatory pantomime.

It has proven that people who adopt dominant postures display higher pain thresholds than those who adopt submissive or neutral postures. So for instance, doubling over when in pain would actually amplify your sensitivity to the pain as opposed to standing straight, gritting your teeth and taking your beating like a man. There is a very simple reason for this: adopting a dominant posture makes the brain feel more in control, which causes the release of testosterone into the body resulting in a decrease in the production of cortisol(stress hormones).

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Pictured: a healthy cortisol level.

Empathy

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“He’s just not right for you. I mean, velcro shoes??”

Although it might not seem like a very significant factor at first glance, a listening ear or a kind word can go a long way to alleviate the pain of others. It has been found that the type of relationship between doctors and patients can go a long way towards influencing a patient’s perception of pain. Consequently, doctors taking even a few minutes to chat with a patient before a procedure can increase the patient’s pain tolerance significantly and aid in the recovery process after surgery.

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“How about that Packers game, huh? Alrighty, go ahead and remove her vagina.”

This is because empathy on the part of doctors changes the brain’s response to stress and improve the patient’s ability to tolerate pain. In an experiment, researchers randomly assigned patients to one of two types of interviews with a doctor prior to an MRI scan. The first group of volunteers had a doctor who spent time interacting with them, asking them questions pertaining to their daily life, family, etc., as well as allowing the volunteers to talk freely about their feelings, thoughts and fears.

Well, the second group was not so lucky. Their doctor restricted their interaction to a strict question and answer format; they only answered questions when asked and they didn’t have the liberty to express themselves as freely as the first group.

The next stage of the procedure involved hooking the volunteers up to an MRI scan to measure their brain activity while they were zapped with mild bolts of electricity. As their brain activity was measured, the volunteers were also shown pictures of the doctor who would be supervising their procedure.

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“Let’s get that punk-ass ingrown toenail out yo foot, bitch!”

The brain scan measured activity in the part of the brain that records perception of pain, and not surprisingly, the patients interviewed by the doctor who spent time interacting with them showed less activity in that parts of their brain. They also self-reported feeling less pain when shown photos of the interviewing doctor. The patients who had to deal with the curt doctor reported the exact opposite and when they were shown the picture of their doctor, they actually felt more pain. And that’s why Obamacare.

Elorm Kojo Ntumy is a contributor for Cracked.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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