Health, Zoomer Report

Words and Pain

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Remember the old saying about sticks and stones breaking your bones? Well it turns out words can hurt you too. A new study suggests merely saying, “This may hurt a bit,” before receiving a shot may be enough to trigger a pain response in the brain long before any actual pain is felt.

Researchers found hearing words that describe pain — such as “excruciating” or “grueling” — activated the areas of the brain that process the corresponding sensation.
They say these findings show that words alone are capable of activating our pain matrix, and that verbal stimuli have are more important than they believed.
In the study, published in the journal Pain, researchers used MRI to examine how healthy people processed words associated with experiencing pain. The brain scans revealed which parts of the brain were activated in response to hearing the words.

The results showed there was a clear response in the brain’s pain-processing centers with the words associated with pain, but there was no such activity pattern in response to the other words.

Researchers say the findings may be especially significant for people with chronic pain disorders who tend to speak a lot about their painful experiences with their health care providers. They say those conversations may intensify the activity of the pain matrix in the brain and intensify the pain experience.

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