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Pain tolerated better by women with better emotional coping skills

PainSci » bibliography » Ruiz-Aranda et al 2010
Tags: pain, mind

One page on PainSci cites Ruiz-Aranda 2010: Mind Over Pain

PainSci notes on Ruiz-Aranda 2010:

This experiment presents clear evidence that “pain is an opinion”: an experience modified by mental and emotional factors.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to learn that being a drama queen actually hurts. (“Drama queens,” of course, is exaggeration for comedic effect — please don’t actually call anyone in pain a drama queen unless you want to get smacked around.)

Two groups of women were tested for pain tolerance with the traditional, unpleasant method: immersion of the hands in ice water. One group was rated with better emotional coping skills, and (predictably) they were more tolerant of pain than women with poorer coping skills.

Although the results seem unsurprising, the authors say that “currently there are no experimental investigations of the relation between emotional regulation and pain.” Based on this study, it can be assumed that emotional state and skills are relevant to pain management.

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Emotional regulation is an important variable in the experience of pain. Currently, there are no experimental investigations of the relation between emotional regulation and pain. The goal of the present study work was to analyze differences in pain perception and mood generated by the cold-pressor (CPT) experimenatal paradigm in women with high and low emotional regulation.

Two groups of women were formed as a function of their level of emotional regulation: women with high emotional repair (N = 24) and women with low emotional repair (N = 28), all of whom performed the CPT.

The results show that the women with a high score in emotional repair reported having experienced less sensory pain and affective pain during the immersion, as well as a more positive affective state before beginning the task. During the experimental task, they also reported a better mood, thus displaying lower impact of the experience of pain.

PERSPECTIVE: Emotional regulation is proposed as a key element to manage the emotional reaction that accompanies the experience of acute pain experimentally induced by the CPT experimental paradigm in a sample of healthy women.

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