What is pain tolerance?

pain tolerance is the term used to explain the amount of pain someone can endure before suffering an emotional or physical collapse. Pain tolerance varies from person to person and can also vary depending on the emotional state someone is in before the onset of the painful situation. In general, research indicates that men have a higher level of pain tolerance than women.

Pain tolerance is different from pain threshold. Pain threshold is the term used to describe the level of pain necessary to elicit a painful response in an individual. Someone may have a very high pain threshold and low pain tolerance, for example.

Some people mistakenly believe that pain tolerance can be enhanced by exposure to pain. The idea makes sense, exposing the body to increasing levels of pain will help it develop immunity to pain. In real life, however, the opposite happens. The body, once exposed to high levels of pain, becomes more sensitive to it. This makes the body's response to pain more dramatic when exposed to pain in the future.

The risk of developing this extrasensitive response to pain is why treating pain quickly is a priority for trauma patients. By treating pain early, medical staff can keep it under control during the patient's recovery period. Medical studies have also suggested that giving a patient pain medication before undergoing surgery allows the patient's post-surgery pain to be treated with lower levels of pain medication.

Pain and pain tolerance can have a huge effect on how patients respond to treatment. For this reason, researchers study the body's response to pain with great interest. An interesting piece of information obtained through this research is that patients who suffer from pain tolerate it much better if they have company. Whether the person with them during the painful event is a friend or a stranger, just the presence of another human helps reduce the level of pain they perceive.

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