Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pain Awareness

               I recently (beginning of May) tripped while running and smashed my face into concrete. I remember it happening, and at first I felt so stupid for falling that I laughed, and all of a sudden, blood started pouring from my face- so much blood, I’ve never seen that amount before.  It was everywhere.. on my shirt, on the sidewalk..etc.  It wasn’t until I realized that I was bleeding did I start getting hysterical and realized that I was in pain.  I had to go to the ER and get stitches, and had to have my nose reset because I broke it in three places.  I would have never known I did this damage if I hadn’t visually seen all the blood. 
            Before this accident, I had complained that my leg was hurting because I had a shin splint.  After I had surgery, I realized that I no longer was in pain because of my leg, my attention shifted to the pain on my face.   Another way to shift attention to decrease pain is through positive things, or things that take one’s mind off an area of the body.   3D imaging has been used to distract burn patients from getting their bandages changed. 
            My sister did a science experiment for a science fair to prove that people could withstand more pain, for a longer period of time when they were distracted.   She concluded that people could keep their foot in an ice bath longer while playing a video game then when they were doing nothing else.  We can do unpleasant activities longer when our minds are somewhere else, focusing on something other than pain.  I often do an abdominal workout while playing a timed game on my phone, because when you are occupied, you don’t realize that you are fatigued as quickly!
             There are people who can actually use their own thinking to mask any pain that they might feel.  This takes extreme concentration, learned from years of mediation.  The Shaolin Monks are known for their extreme mediation skills, and channeling their energy so that they have less emotional reaction to pain.  They perform seemingly painful stunts that show off their incredible tolerance to pain.  The video below shows how an average person with chronic pain can shrink their pain by learning how to control their brain!


  1. I agree with your topic completely. Every parent knows that when your child falls or hurts themselves you pretend they are OK. It is when you feed into it and say "awe poor baby" or act sad for them that the child will express pain and fear. Like many things, pain can be a complete mind game...and yes distractions do work. For example, when my daughter burned her hand on my flat iron... I have done this many times myself and the pain lasts a good 10 minutes if not longer...I'm sure many of us have had a burn and it does not immediately go away...some lasting 30 minutes or longer. After my daughter burned her hand I immediately tried to distract her and we started to play with my make-up.I knew that if I was not distracting her she would feel more pain. My plan worked of course and she did not complain of the pain even though I know she would have felt it.

  2. I found this blog so interesting to read and I can totally relate to this. Last semester I was so stressed out about finals because they were all one after another, in one day I had to take 3 finals. I had noticed that my wisdom tooth was bothering me but I paid no attention to it because again my mind was else where this pain went on for days I cannot tell you how many Advil’s and orajels i had by the end of the week. The weekend had finally come and I could finally relax and take my last exam on Monday. As soon as I got home my mom looked at me and said I looked awful I explained to her my wisdom tooth was hurting and that I would make an appointment on Monday, she checked my temperature and I had a 101. We tried to make the fever go down but not luck that's when she decided to take me to the ER. At the hospital I came to find out that my white blood cell count was extremely high, my throat was closing up and this was due to an infection I had caused my an abscess from my wisdom tooth i had to get surgery and be hospitalized for 2 weeks. The point is I was so distracted with school and studying that I was able to tolerate such pain, it wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I started crying because the pain was unbearable. The doctors were in shock as well they asked me how could I have waited so long to seek help, when I told them I was distracted by school and finals they said ahh you were so distracted that you lost awareness of your pain.