Stress Reduces the Ability to Cope with Physical Pain

Stress Reduces the Ability to Cope with Physical Pain

While it is commonly known that different people have varying thresholds of pain, it is little known that stress reduces the ability to tolerate pain. In the research published in the journal, Pain, the study of 29 men, led by Professor Ruth Defrin of the Department of Physical Therapy at Tel Aviv University in Israel, found that psychological stress greatly increased pain intensity, while reducing the ability to cope with it.


The study comprising of 29 male participants took part in the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST), a computer-based algorithm designed to induce psychological stress. They were first told that the average score of an individual for the test was 80%-90%. However, no matter how hard the participants tried, they would not be able to attain a score higher than 45%, thus causing them to become psychologically stressed.


Before and after the MIST test, the participants underwent a series of experiments to assess their threshold to heat pain and their ability to cope with the pain. Subsequently, they were divided into groups based on their stress levels, before they were reassessed to see how stress affected their ability to withstand pain.


It was then discovered that men who experienced higher levels of psychological stress had a much lower ability to withstand pain, compared to men who had lower stress levels.


Not everyone is as lucky (or unlucky) to have congenital analgesia, which is the inability to feel physical pain, and this tip will come in especially handy for busy working adults trying to whip up a healthy meal within five minutes.


Apart from lowering the ability to withstand physical pain, stress can affect the body in many other ways, including enhancing cravings, encourage poor eating habits, increase pulse palpitation, having insomnia and having acne outbreaks on the skin. Also, stress can impair your ability to think critically, make decisions and perform basic tasks. Thus, it is important to understand and manage stress, and to find ways to eliminate or reduce stressors.


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Medical News Today | Stress reduces our ability to cope with physical pain, study finds


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