Stories tagged pain


Understandable: Somebody did just say "shinbone," after all.
Understandable: Somebody did just say "shinbone," after all.Courtesy *punkinator
Check it out, crybabies: words can hurt. Like, literally.

Not all words hurt, of course. Like, when we make fun of the way you run, or the way you say “caravan,” or the way you let your parakeets perch on your lip and eat out of your mouth… well, I’m sorry that you’re so sensitive about all of that, but the tears are all your fault. Buck up, little cowboy.

But when we say things like, “when the jagged chunk of metal lacerated through the skin and severed the tendon, the resulting sensation was excruciating,” that really does hurt. Or, at the very least, it causes the pain of your lacerated skin and severed tendons to be that much more excruciating.

It turns out that pain-related words or phrases stimulate an area of the brain known as the “pain matrix,” even when there is nothing else causing physical pain in the body. If real pain is on the way (like after you hear, “this will only hurt for a second”), the pain will be intensified, because your brain is ready for it in a bad way.

Researchers think that the response may be an evolved characteristic that reinforces our aversion to things that can hurt us; when you hear a phrase like “this may pinch a little,” an intense pain memory is activated, removing any doubt from your mind that that’s something you should avoid.

Anyway, I thought I’d leave you with a few tried-and-true pain matrix stimulators:
Compound fracture
Ruptured eardrum


Naked Mole Rat: a mighty survivor both hairless and nearly blind
Naked Mole Rat: a mighty survivor both hairless and nearly blindCourtesy MissTessmacher
The naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is truly one of the most remarkable animals on this earth. On average 3 inches long and weighing just over an ounce, one would not think this creature so high and mighty. However, its unusual traits have brought it under more medical scrutiny and established an ever increasing presence in research laboratories. Stories have rung for years about how the only species to survive a world Armageddon would be cockroaches and rats. My money is on the naked mole rat.

While called a rat, they are one of 37 species of mole rats globally and are more closely related to guinea pigs and porcupines than other Rodentia. Limited to parts of East Africa, they spend their lives under ground in a highly social commune of individuals, all governed by a queen. This is very similar to the eusociality seen in bees and ants. The queen is the only female to breed, with all other individuals serving as guards or workers. This unusual social life for a mammal in a colony can lead to fierce competitions among females when the old queen dies. It may take days or weeks of power struggle before life in the colony returns to normal.

In search of plant tubers for sustenance, they dig through the dirt with their teeth, developing a system of burrows that can carry on for miles. One of the naked mole rats remarkable features is its ability to survive in the high carbon dioxide environments of these tunnels. Their extremely low metabolic rate and high absorption of oxygen allow them to overcome the limitations of the cramped and congested space. Research has found that these mole rats are void of a pain transmitter called Substance P found in other mammals, and have an uncanny resistance to the oxidative stress of daily metabolism.

Researchers hope this could lead to new insights into the process of aging. Captive research colonies have had individuals live as long as 28 years. That is more than nine times as long as a research mouse! This longevity and unique durability lead even more scientists to consider the naked mole rat for captive study populations in the fight against other afflictions like stroke and cancer. If these superman-like traits haven’t given you a deeper appreciation for such a tiny hairless creature, perhaps you just need a clever ditty to sing their praises. Oh! …you so UGLY!


skin tattooing process
skin tattooing processCourtesy ....

More than 5000 years ago a new form of pain endurance for record, spiritual, and cultural artwork purposes had evolved."Tatau", which means to strike and mark something, also recognized in our modern days as tattooing. You may be wondering what is tattooing?Does it hurt?How is it done?Well, the process of tattooing a needle containing ink is injected into the dermis, which the deeper second layer of skin creating some type of design. The reason for it not puncturing into the top layer of skin called the epidermis is because the top layer of the skin tends to shed its cells more frequently than the second layer.Thus when getting a tattoo, it is permanent because your second layer of skin is more stable. The pain involved in getting a tattoo is personally based on your physical and mental tolerance, so if your skin is more sensitive then most likely it will hurt more because your nerves in your body pick it up faster than someone who doesn't have much sensitivity.
When getting a tattoo on the back of your arm vs. getting a tattoo on your elbow, which will hurt more? The correct answer is on the back of your arm, because it's closer to your major organs and arteries. Go to to view the amount of discomfort to expect on the body chart. From recent experiences in getting tattoo's I feel as though all tattoos feel the same as far as pain wise. "I mean come on now a needle going into your skin.Yea it hurts at first but once your body adjusts to the pain it feels like the area your getting tattooed has gone numb and the only feeling is from the vibration of the needle.I have four tattoos in various parts on my body, and when getting each one I try to compare the pain difference to find out that there is no difference because you get use to it."


Watch out for that F-bomb coming right at 'cha.
Watch out for that F-bomb coming right at 'cha.Courtesy wickenden
A new study shows that bad language could serve as a pain reliever. NeuroReport published the study, which measured how long college students could keep their hands submerged in cold water. Students had a choice to either swear repeatedly, or use a neutral word. And what do ya know, the cursing kids reported less pain and also managed to keep their hands immersed for an average of 40 seconds longer. Well what the @%$#?

Richard Stephens of Keele University in England says, "Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it.” His research has shown that we could benefit. He states, “"I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear."

So how does swearing achieve physical relief? In the study, students’ heart rate rose when they swore, which suggests the fight-or-flight response in which the heart rate climbs so that we become less sensitive to pain. The structure that triggers this response, the the amygdala, was indeed activated during the study which means that unlike normal languages, expletives activate emotional centers in the right side of the brain.

Stephens cautions that the more you swear, the less emotionally potent the word becomes. So don’t be cursin’ left and right because you read it here. But hopefully, with scientific information to back it up, mothers will no longer feel the need to wash their kids’ mouths with soap.


Recently, a five-year-old girl named Gabby Gingras was in the news. Gingras has an interesting predicament: she was born with a disorder that keeps her from feeling any physical sensations like pain. Her disorder is called Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy type-4, or HSAN type-4.

It's a tough life when you can't feel anything. Gingras wandered around for quite a while with a broken jaw once, and no one noticed until she developed a fever due to an infection the broken bone caused. Gingras can't control her body temperature in extreme weather, either. Since her body can't feel pain, she can't feel heat, and her sweat glands don't kick in when she starts to get hot.

She lost an eye due to excessive rubbing and scratching, and now wears a prosthesis—a fake eye. Her baby teeth had to be pulled out because she started to chew apart her tongue and the inside of her mouth. (She didn't stop because it didn't hurt.) Her other eye is pretty bad; she has a prescription of 20/200. Her parents are debating whether or not to put her through eye surgery. If all goes well, she would be able to see much better. If not, she could be totally blind.

Luckily for the rest of us, this hindering trait is extremely rare; only 100 cases have been documented.

--information in this article was found in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday, May 15th 2005.