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One source of body pain can suppress the sensation of another

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

It seems that scientists have found evidence of the well-known proverb “a wedge to knock out a wedge“. They found that pain from one source of body pain was dulled by another.

Two consecutive studies have been published in the journals Brain Sciences and BMC Neuroscience. It is known that the perception of pain can vary quite significantly depending on the situation. The body’s own pain control system is responsible for this, and disturbances in its work lead to the development of chronic pain.

The research of scientists from the Ruhr University in Bochum (Germany) was aimed at studying this system. To do this, they used the Conditioned pain modulation: it shows how one pain stimulus suppresses the other when a person is experiencing at the same time with the first.

The experiments were carried out using surface electrodes that induce pain in adult participants without chronic or other diseases. In the first trial, the scientists used the painful cutaneous electrical stimulation (PCES), where one painful stimulus (test; pain from a burn and electrical stimulation of the skin) acted first alone, and then together with the second stimulus (cold water). Participants were only required to assess how painful their feelings were in both cases.

In the second experiment, the specialists used all the same electrical stimulation of the skin, but the role of the second “stimulus” was played only by distraction. The results of the analysis of the EEG and the responses of the participants showed that in both cases the sensation from the pain stimulus decreased in a similar way. 

Although the study was conducted on healthy people, it is aimed primarily at those who have diseases accompanied by some kind of pain or related symptoms.

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