Repeating the word "fuck" actually can reduce your experience of pain, according to a new study by Keele University researchers. The psychologists ran an experiment in which subjects underwent a cold pressor test, a common method to pain threshold and tolerance by immersing your hand in freezing cold water for a minute. (See above video for actor Brian Blessed's demonstration, unrelated to this current research.)
According to the researchers' scientific paper, their data "replicate previous findings that repeating a swear word at a steady pace and volume benefits pain tolerance, extending this finding to pain threshold."
Don't think any old word will help though. They found no benefit when their subjects exclaimed made-up words like “fouch” and “twizpipe."
"Swearing as a Response to Pain: Assessing Hypoalgesic Effects of Novel 'Swear” Words" (Frontiers in Psychology) Read the rest
One of my shoulders stopped working very well about three years ago. Hanging from a pull-up and chin-up bar helps me a lot.
I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to move my right arm. Then my arm started to ache all day and I was already suffering a greatly reduced range of motion. A physical therapist told me that my sleeping position, on my right side, matched with my 8-12 hours a day standing in front of a laptop and typing, was to blame.
I can't stop typing, and the frustration of trying to change my sleeping position is a monster. As if an aching dominant arm's shooting pains when moved were not hardship enough, running on to little sleep is a whole other category of horrendous. Issues start to compound. I was spending a lot of time wondering if this was now my life.
My physical therapist told me to hang from my chin-up bar, palms out. Just to hang there and to try and do it for 2 minutes a day. The first time I tried it, I didn't have the strength to even hang there for 5 seconds. I could do chin-ups with my palms facing in no problem, but just hanging on the bar palms out caused the impinged arm to start shaking and trembling. Over the course of a few days, I worked up to 30 seconds and maybe up to one minute hangs.
My arm felt better.
My arm improves for longer and longer periods of time after hanging. Read the rest
The Moroccan Euphorbia resinifera plant produces a resin so spicy that it attains a whopping 16,000,000,000 on the Scoville scale, 10,000x hotter than a Carolina reaper chili.
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Decades of working on the computer, video games, and riding a motorcycle have left my hands in pretty bad shape. I still like doing all of those things, however, so over the years I've found a few things that really help. Read the rest
A small cohort of 31 healthy young men who took 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day for six weeks developed "compensated hypogonadism" (little balls), because the ibuprofen interfered with their testosterone production and their gonads had to work overtime to compensate.
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Purdue cynically created the American opiod epidemic through a combination of bribing medical professionals to overprescribe Oxycontin, publishing junk science, and aggressively lobbying regulators at every level to turn a blind eye to the destruction of the lives of millions of patient; while the company settled a record-setting criminal case, the name of the secretive family of billionaires who run Purdue and profited from the Oxy epidemic is best known for philanthropy, not profiteering: the Sackler family. Read the rest
The PainStation is a cocktail-style Pong game that provides "sensory feedback" to players. Which is to say: pain. Physical pain.
During the game, the players place their left hands on the PEU (Pain Execution Unit) which serves as a sensor and feedback instrument. Possible feedback effects are heat impulses, an electric shock and an integrated miniature wire whip. The feedback generated is dependent on the playing process and can increase in its intensity. The respective opponent can try to alter his or her playing style to purposely change the intensity of the feedback.
Painstation is also remarkable in the degree of refinement applied to the basic Pong concept: ball speed, ricochet characteristics, bar length, etc, are all variable and under the influence of bonuses and competitive machinations. But it is the pain bonuses that matter:
Double Pain Execution Time
Quadruple Pain Execution Time
Ease the Pain!
Photo: Ultimaratiopharm Read the rest
Shocking the bejeezus out of my lower back led me to the fastest recovery I've experienced yet from periodic bouts of debilitating back pain. For me, this inexpensive TENS unit is a winner, and was as effective as a higher-priced comparison unit I tried. Read the rest
Abuses in my youth have left me in a lot of pain. Robin McKenzie's Treat Your Own Back helped me more than any doctor.
I was desperately searching for an option other than letting doctors I do not trust operate on my spine. In response, a friend sent me a copy of this book. Spine, neck and lower back expert Robin McKenzie's Treat Your Own Back delivered enough information to let me hold off on the surgery and return to a fairly functional life.
Treat Your Own Back gives a lot of information about why the pain is happening, and what posture can do to alleviate it. Simple exercises that'll help relieve pressure on nerves, and build core strength. Common sense approaches to dealing with back pain, rather than running right for surgery.
Someday I think I'll end up under the knife. I have some good friends who have had wonderful success with it. Until I find I really need it, and I've run out of self-care options, however, I'm going to keep looking for books like this one.
Treat Your Own Back by Robin McKenzie via Amazon Read the rest
My kids haven't played with Legos in years but somehow the tiny bricks manage to crawl out of the woodwork, waiting for me like caltrops on a dark road. The pain such a tiny colorful piece of plastic can cause for a bare foot is truly indescribable. This episode of "Today I Found Out" explains why.
(via Laughing Squid)
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One of the funny things about Boing Boing is gaining access to the broken ansible in the lair's basement. Due to some as yet untheoretical relativistic cross-wiring, all it can access are random wikipedia articles from the distant future. We've been instructed in no uncertain terms never to use it, and the last editor to do so disappeared in a flash of late 1970s-era BBC special effects, presumably an extremely painful demise. This 24-bit PNG found on their laptop didn't make a lot of sense until lately; here it is for your topical interest. Read the rest
For more than a century, physicians have used music to make patients feel better before, during, and after surgery. A new scientific meta-study looks at the evidence and confirms that yes, listening to music has measurable pain-killing properties and reduces anxiety around surgery. Read the rest
In Endogenous adenosine A3 receptor activation selectively alleviates persistent pain states, a paper in Brain by researchers led from the St Louis University Medical School, scientists document their work in switching off neural pain pathways by activating an adenosine receptor. Read the rest
One thing we can agree on: They both hurt an awful lot.
Stanley Milgram's "Obedience to Authority" experiments are infamous classics of psychology and social behavior. Back in the 1960s, Milgram set up a series of tests that showed seemingly normal people would be totally willing to torture another human being if prodded into it by an authority figure.
The basic set-up is probably familiar to you. Milgram told his test subjects that they were part of a study on learning. They were tasked with asking questions to another person, who was rigged up to an electric shock generator. When the other person got the questions wrong, the subject was supposed to zap them and then turn up the voltage. The catch was that the person getting "zapped" was actually an actor. So was the authority figure, whose job it was to tell the test subject that they must continue the experiment, no matter how much the other person pleaded for them to stop. In Milgram's original study, 65% of the subjects continued to the end of the session, eventually "administering" 450-volt shocks.
But they weren't doing it calmly. If you read Milgram's paper, you find that these people were trembling, and digging nails into their own flesh. Some of them even had seizure-like fits. Which is interesting to know when you sit down to read about Michael Shermer's recent attempt to replicate the Milgram experiments for a Dateline segment. Told they were trying out for a new reality show, the six subjects were set up to "shock" an actor, just like in Milgram's experiments. Read the rest
The biology of itching and the biology of pain are intertwined in interesting ways, writes graduate student and science blogger Aatish Bhatia. Understanding itching can help us better understand how to treat pain. I'd not seen Bhatia's blog before, but I'm really liking his style. He does a great job of breaking down the science in a clear way.
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... In the last decade, researchers have learned about receptors in the nerves under our skin that react specifically to itchy substances. When these receptors fire, they send a signal racing up our spinal cord, headed to our brain where it creates an urge to scratch. Scientists now have a basic map of the roads that an itch takes on its way to our brain. And they have even been able to block some of these roads in mice, essentially preventing them from feeling an itch.
...The picture that is emerging is a complex one, where pain and itch signals are distinct yet subtly intertwined. Of the nerve cells under our skin, some are involved only in signalling pain, and they have pain receptors. Others are responsible for signalling different types of itches, and they have both itch and pain receptors. If the same cell has both receptors, how do we distinguish itch from ouch?
... As the biology of itching becomes better understood, the benefits are making their way from the lab to the clinic. The drug morphine is a powerful painkiller, but has a common side effect of itchiness.