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beautifulbobby193's avatar

What gives some people a higher pain threshold than others?

Asked by beautifulbobby193 (1694points) May 1st, 2010

Is this due to the toughness of a person, to be able to withstand more pain without making too big a deal of it, or do some people just experience pain differently via. being physically more sensitive to it?

Why is a person with a lower pain threshold considered weaker? Are they really weaker or is their body simply tuned to be more sensitive to pain and hence they experience it differently? Is it completely psychological? Why would one person exposed to what is deemed to be the same level of pain rate it as 4 on a scale of 1–10 while another may rate it much higher?

This question is based on two people being of similar physical condition and overall strength.

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9 Answers

thriftymaid's avatar

I think it has to do with how you’ve handled pain over a period of time. I have a high threshold and have never really taken pain meds. People who use a lot of medication have a lower threshold. So, I think it has more to do with your own historical behavior than something you are born with.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I think it might be how your nerves respond to a stimulus. Like people who can’t feel pain because their nerves are damaged.

jazmina88's avatar

the nervous system and over all well being.????

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Proven fact, when in physical pain, cursing out loud has been shown to decrease the intensity of pain. Of course, this is dependent on how often the person in pain curses in daily language. I throw swears around like it’s chicken feed. So these words hold very little meaning to me & now they get their revenge, by not coming to my rescue when I catch the belt loop of my pants on those damn cupboard door handles.

Edit – Found the news article..

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8147170.stm

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve been told in my case it’s because I’m too stubborn to know any better. I imagine, without any firm background, it’s a combination of physical conditioning, natural “tuning” of your nervous system to pain, and psychology. Somewhere a few months back I read an article about a secondary sensory system that might contribute to acute or continual pain. Can’t seem to find a link anymore though.

roundsquare's avatar

Trying to remember from college… but some people have a higher density of nerve endings than others. E.g. I think women have a higher density than men, which is why the same action will cause them more pain (on average).

Also, I’d guess it has to do with how much pain you’ve had in the past. If you are constantly in some amount of pain, your body/brain will probably stop responding to that level of pain because it is no longer productive to do so.

@thriftymaid‘s answer about meds seems to make sense as well.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Pain tolerance seems to vary in the same person depending on environment and conditioning. Sitting at a desk, a paper cut can be painful; on a battlefield, with adrenalin pumping, a severe injury might go unnoticed. For someone like a professional athlete or soldier, conditioning and training overwhelms pain; the task being so important that pain is disregarded.

There are also masochists who associate pain with sexual pleasure. I have no idea whether this is caused by prior experiences or occurs spontaneously.

Kismet's avatar

I think it is a mix of psychological and the actual physical being that impacts how a person feels pain.

You know when you get a shot at the doctor? There are some shots (or even getting blood taken) that don’t feel very pleasant at all. I heard from someone that not looking at the needle can help take away the fear and the pain. . . And for me, they were correct.

Also, there are some people that over react to pain, when maybe they aren’t feeling it as bad as they like to think they are. That’s just trying to get attention.

There are also those people who baby themselves, like a cut is the end of the world.
Another psychological problem that makes the pain more than what it is.

These are just little opinions of mine.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I think a lot of it is mind control.

Anytime we resist we increase our pain, psychologically and physically.

Monks have trained their minds and bodies to withstand conditions that most could not. extremes of heat, cold, etc.

I know, personally speaking that when I surrender to the pain of whatever it is, breathe, go into a meditative space that the physical sensations are much reduced.

The mind is very powerful, for better or for worse.

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