Pain Facts
Pain Facts

32 Strange But True Pain Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published May 30, 2024
  • Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 3 to 6 months or that lasts longer than it usually takes for tissue to heal.[8]
  • Chronic pain affects more Americans than any other disease, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.[1]
  • Changes in air pressure can cause people with arthritis to experience more pain in their joints.[1]
  • Those with chronic pain are encouraged to stay active to keep their bodies as strong as possible.[1]
  • According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage."[10]
  • The word "pain" is from the Latin poena, meaning "punishment, penalty," which is related to the Greek poine, meaning "price paid, penalty, punishment."[5]
  • The biology of pain is never really straightforward, even when it appears to be.

    - G. Lorimer Moseley

  • Allodynia is pain caused by something that doesn't usually create pain, such as the touch of a feather or combing one's hair. Several conditions can cause allodynia, including diabetes, shingles, fibromyalgia, trauma, or migraines.[3]
  • Phantom pain is pain felt in a limb that has been amputated. While the limb is no longer there, the pain is real and can range from mild to severe and last for seconds or years. Approximately 8 out of 10 people who lose a limb experience phantom pain.[6]
  • While your brain processes pain, it cannot feel it. During brain surgery, anesthesia is only used on the scalp because the brain does not need to be numbed.[1]
  • Tolerance to pain varies from person to person. Pain affects individuals differently based on levels of inflammation already in the body, level of anxiety, and gender.[11]
  • Back pain is the most common type of chronic pain in the United States. The most common type of acute pain is musculoskeletal pain from sports injuries.[11]
  • Back pain Facts
    Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide

  • Healthcare expenses, lost income, and lost productivity due to chronic pain costs the U.S. economy $100 billion annually.[11]
  • Americans are living longer, and about 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese; both are causing increased pain levels in the U. S. population.[11]
  • Anxiety and depression can make a person more sensitive to pain. Additionally, people who smoke or are obese also report more pain.[11]
  • Studies show that one side of your body may experience pain differently than the other side. For example, right-handers tolerate more pain in the right hand than they do in the left hand.[11]
  • Certain types of food can increase pain levels. For example, alcohol, sugary foods, and grains can increase inflammation levels in the body, which creates a higher sensitivity to pain.[11]
  • Hair color may affect pain tolerance. Redheads, for example, tend to be more sensitive to pain because they have a mutation in a gene called MCrR. This gene is responsible for red hair and belongs to a group of receptors that includes pain receptors.[11]
  • Chronic pain may shrink a person's brain by as much as 11%. Specialists believe that constant stress leads to the decrease in size.[11]
  • The most painful conditions a human can experience are kidney stones, childbirth, trauma (e.g. gunshot), shingles, trigeminal neuralgia, chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, cluster headaches, spinal headaches, migraines, sickle cell anemia, and endometriosis.[7]
  • Facts about Pain

  • Rubbing alcohol burns when applied to cuts because the alcohol lowers the pain threshold of exposed VR1 nerve cells, the cells that detect hot temperatures. Consequently, your own body temperature is causing the burning sensation.[2]
  • A broken heart can hurt just as much as physical pain.[1]
  • Before 1987, infants were often not anesthetized during surgeries, particularly heart surgeries, because physicians believed that babies could not feel pain.[4]
  • Greek physician Hippocrates believed that an imbalance of body fluids caused pain.[1]
  • Dolorimeter and Pain Fact
    Introduced in 1940, the dolorimeter quickly became popular
  • A dolorimeter is an instrument that measures pain thresholds and pain tolerance.[1]
  • Swearing can reduce the fear of feeling pain and can even increase pain tolerance.[9]
  • President Ronald Reagan said he felt no pain when he was shot in 1981.[1]
  • Low back pain and headaches are the most common types of pain in the United States, and headaches are the most common type of pain worldwide.[1]
  • Some men experience couvade syndrome, or sympathetic labor pain, when their wives give birth. Some wives even look after their husbands while giving birth.[1]
  • People consume over 100 billion aspirin tablets per year.[1]
  • Studies show that a painful stimulus accompanied with a red light hurts more than when it is paired with a blue light, which suggests that pain in contextual.[1]
  • In pain experiments, men reported higher pain thresholds if tested by a female.[1]
  • Platypus venom is nonfatal, but it can cause excruciating pain for months.[1]

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