May 8, 2014

Science Discovers How Wimpy You Are

Till now I was of the impression that pain tolerance is a psychological thing. Pain can be tolerated by will. It is widely believed that regular exposure to painful stimuli will increase pain tolerance – i.e. increase the ability of the individual to handle pain by becoming more conditioned to it.

But following two recent studies suggests that how much pain you can tolerate can be determined by Genes and your brain structure. This is fascinating because if you know you are born as a wimpy kid you can apply techniques to increase your pain thresholds. Also the doctors can prescribe specific medicine instead of one pain killer fits all.

Your Brain Structure May Influence Pain Tolerance

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that people with less gray matter in certain areas of the brain perceive pain more intensely.
Gray matter in the brain processes information, while white matter coordinates communications between different regions of the brain.

"These kinds of structural differences can provide a foundation for the development of better tools for the diagnosis, classification, treatment and even prevention of pain," study senior author Robert Coghill said in a Wake Forest news release.


Genes May Help Determine Your Pain Threshold

"Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance levels," study author Dr. Tobore Onojjighofia.

The participants were evaluated for the following genes: COMT, DRD2, DRD1 and OPRK1.

The DRD1 gene was more common among those with low pain perception.For those with moderate pain, the COMT and OPRK genes were seen more. COMT was 25 percent more common in those with moderate pain than those with high pain perception. OPRK was 19 percent more prevalent, the investigators found. Meanwhile, the DRD2 gene variant was 25 percent more common among those with a high pain perception than those with moderate pain.