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    BestBetter's Avatar
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    Is there a painless way to improve pain tolerance?

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    I'm assuming the answer is 'no', but I thought I'd toss this out there in case someone knows something about this.

    Based on things I've read, it seems that women in general supposedly have a bigger tolerance for pain and discomfort than men, which makes sense from a biological perspective.

    However, this does not hold true for me. I have absolutely no ability to deal with pain; a little finger prick will be bothering me for hours, and a mild headache literally shuts down operations, I'm not functional. My husband, however, has the highest pain tolerance I've ever seen; he's had major surgery with minimal anesthetic and no painkillers (Italy for some reason has a pretty warped view of painkillers, as in it's rare to get them, even after surgeries or other traumas), which wasn't pleasant but he was able to deal.

    So this got me to wondering: is there a way for me to increase my pain tolerance without subjecting myself to tons of pain? What makes one person better able to handle pain than another person; is it psychological, or does it have more to do with neurotransmitters and chemicals?

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    i have a pretty high pain tolerance, and always have. i got hurt a lot as a kid, and dealt with some painful, repeating conditions like chronic ear infections and things. that all got me pretty well adjusted to pain. that's not much help, i'm sure. but, all that also helped me learn two things:

    1. pain can cause pleasure--
    i had a horrible infection once, and the pain was pretty intense. sitting in the hospital, i started laughing. my mom freaked out a little, but i just kept laughing until my eardrum ruptured and pain went away. the body combats pain with hormones and endorphins and other brain words. those can actually cause you to feel slightly elated. it's a little strange, but i sort of like pain now (and by sort of, i mean sort of a lot...except headaches). i'm not talking about anything too weird, but if i scrape an arm or leg climbing a tree, it feels good because i've come to recognize that other feeling. that has only led to an increased pain tolerance.
    2. pain is a good thing. one of the problems with a high tolerance is that you don't fix problems before they become bigger problems. pain is the body's way of saying something is wrong. if your ankle hurts, the body is telling you to rest. if your head hurts, drink some water or take a nap. it's not necessarily a tolerance that is beneficial, it's knowing how to get rid of the pain without drugs

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    One of the big things that I've done (And interestingly enough, in convergent evolution, my dad has tried doing too!) is try to treat pain as just another sensation...and then dismiss it. It's really hard to do, and takes a lot of work, but it can be done!

    PrimalRob also has some really good points. Pain means something's wrong, like a sprained ankle needs some time to heal, so keep off of it. So, take care of the pain of what's wrong!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BestBetter View Post
    I'm assuming the answer is 'no', but I thought I'd toss this out there in case someone knows something about this.

    Based on things I've read, it seems that women in general supposedly have a bigger tolerance for pain and discomfort than men, which makes sense from a biological perspective.

    However, this does not hold true for me. I have absolutely no ability to deal with pain; a little finger prick will be bothering me for hours, and a mild headache literally shuts down operations, I'm not functional. My husband, however, has the highest pain tolerance I've ever seen; he's had major surgery with minimal anesthetic and no painkillers (Italy for some reason has a pretty warped view of painkillers, as in it's rare to get them, even after surgeries or other traumas), which wasn't pleasant but he was able to deal.

    So this got me to wondering: is there a way for me to increase my pain tolerance without subjecting myself to tons of pain? What makes one person better able to handle pain than another person; is it psychological, or does it have more to do with neurotransmitters and chemicals?
    Is it because you worry about what it might be (worst case scenario kind of girl) or just that you can't concentrate on anything else when you feel pain?

    Meditation or biofeedback. I've also heard playing violent video games works. Exercise, adequate rest, positive thoughts and avoidance of OTC painkillers are my recommendations. A shot of tequila, too.

    I have a higher pain tolerance for a lot of things, but if it is an usual pain my mind starts to wander to 'what could it be'? I could use some meditation skills myself.

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    For me, putting myself through certain kinds of pain lessens the sensation over time. Wearing stilettos frequently, plucking hairs, etc. If I don't do it for a long time my body forgets about the pain acclimatization and it hurts like a mofo again so I guess my answer would be no.
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    So I guess the solution really is to just experience more pain more frequency and develop a tolerance.

    I understand that pain is an important way for our bodies to get across the message that something hurtful is happening that should be stopped. My frustrations are mainly with situations where I'm experiencing what should be a minor pain (like getting my finger pricked to check my iron level) and it turns into something I'm still complaining about 2 hours later.

    The part I don't understand is that I have minor-moderate chronic back pain, which is something that never seems to lessen over time, which then led me to think about people with Fibromyalgia; they are experiencing chronic pain which never seems to lessen or become significantly more tolerable over time.

    Maybe there are certain types of pain that people can never be conditioned against, and other types that can become more tolerable over time.

    I've used hypnotherapy in the past to overcome my phobia of needles, and I think it's a great practice, but somehow I was never able to use it successfully to deal with pain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by primalrob View Post
    i have a pretty high pain tolerance, and always have. i got hurt a lot as a kid, and dealt with some painful, repeating conditions like chronic ear infections and things. that all got me pretty well adjusted to pain. that's not much help, i'm sure. but, all that also helped me learn two things:

    1. pain can cause pleasure--
    i had a horrible infection once, and the pain was pretty intense. sitting in the hospital, i started laughing. my mom freaked out a little, but i just kept laughing until my eardrum ruptured and pain went away. the body combats pain with hormones and endorphins and other brain words. those can actually cause you to feel slightly elated. it's a little strange, but i sort of like pain now (and by sort of, i mean sort of a lot...except headaches). i'm not talking about anything too weird, but if i scrape an arm or leg climbing a tree, it feels good because i've come to recognize that other feeling. that has only led to an increased pain tolerance.
    2. pain is a good thing. one of the problems with a high tolerance is that you don't fix problems before they become bigger problems. pain is the body's way of saying something is wrong. if your ankle hurts, the body is telling you to rest. if your head hurts, drink some water or take a nap. it's not necessarily a tolerance that is beneficial, it's knowing how to get rid of the pain without drugs
    Wow! This. All of it. I too was a sick kid - in and out of hospital for brain surgery sick. And these days I experience pain in exactly the same way. I got the giggles during labour...
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    chronic pain is always there, and it's always felt, but there comes a point you just shut it out or ignore it as best as you can

    i have a high pain tolerance too, i just accept the pain as there and do what i can when it comes to day to day activities
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