What we do know that pain is felt when electrical signals are sent from nerve endings up your spinal cord to receptors in your brain, which then register the sensation of pain as well as releases endorphins to help alleviate it. For most people, pain comes and goes pretty quickly, but for others, chronic pain lasts for weeks, months – or even every day of their lives. In fact, chronic pain affects more than 76.2 million Americans — more than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined!
You probably know the physiology and neurology of pain, but today, we wanted to introduce you to some weird and wild facts about pain. Share these with your patients, audience, and followers, and you may find more and more want to message or email you about their issues with pain, and then make an appointment to get help!
7 Weird and wild facts about pain:
1. Women may feel more pain than men
It’s common knowledge that women experience more pain than men throughout the course of their life, with menstruation, childbirth, and higher rates of migraine headaches taking their toll. But studies show that women also experience pain different physiologically than men. In fact, studies in animals displayed that females require twice as much pain medication to get the same relief as males, and it’s believed that women have twice as many pain receptors as men.
2. Booze will ease the pain from eating spicy food
It really burns when you eat hot peppers, chillis, or food that’s way too spicy, and even after drinking gallons of water, nothing seems to help. But next time your mouth is on fire, try drinking some vodka or any other form of straight liquor, as that has been found to ease the pain caused by hot peppers (and not just because you’ll be too drunk to feel it!)
3. Brain Freeze is real!
If you’ve ever eaten ice cream too quickly on a hot day or slurped a milkshake too fast, you know all too well the excruciating sensation that we call “Brain Freeze.” It actually has a scientific name, ‘sphenopalatine ganglion neuralgia,’ and occurs when the pain receptors in your mouth signal the icy sensation to the brain. However, the same nerves from your mouth are also in the forehead, so your brain mixes up the source of the pain and you feel a sharp headache instead of oral pain.
4. Social pain actually hurts just like physical pain
Since pain receptors in the brain initiate which signals are sent to the body, the pain of social rejection or heartbreak can be just as acute as physical pain. So when someone breaks up with you, your crush ignores you, or, God forbid, you catch your boyfriend or girlfriend cheating, the sensation you feel is real physical pain. For that reason, taking Tylenol has been shown to actually alleviate psychological pain caused from social rejection.
5. People with red hair are more susceptible to pain
A specific genetic variation that occurs in redheads also makes them more sensitive to pain. In fact, that same genetic trait makes them metabolize pain meds different, making them resistant to certain anesthetics. So dentists often give their red headed patients more anesthesia than patients with other hair colors during procedures so that they could achieve the same level of comfort.
Is sex the best pain reliever?
Emerging research points to the conclusion that sexual intimacy can help alleviate the physical symptoms of pain because arousal releases endorphins in the brain that act as natural painkillers. That was the case in a 2013 study, where 60% of migraine sufferers who had sexual relations during a migraine attack reported that it improved their symptoms of pain.
Back pain is the leading cause of chronic pain in America
It’s estimated that 80% of the US population will experience back pain in their lifetime, and an estimated 10% of the US population is experiencing back pain – about 31 million back pain sufferers.
So it’s no wonder why the National Institutes of Health estimates that 27% of Americans – or almost 250 million people – report that low back pain was their most common type of pain.
Look for parts 2 and 3 of this blog series with more weird and wild facts about pain!