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Does swearing reduce pain? 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Does swearing reduce pain? @^#@%, yeah! And so does saying “ow!” according to a new study. And of course it’s not really surprising, given what we know about pain (it’s weird and thoroughly brain-tuned). It probably doesn’t have much relevance to chronic pain. But it’s interesting, and fun.

In our study, saying “ow” increased pain tolerance by about 20%. One may speculate that benefits in real life may, perhaps, even be larger. There, vocalisations are typically less measured. That is, people are likely to say “ow” and other things more forcefully and can do so continuously without the somewhat unnatural breaks that were introduced for standardisation in our study.

Less measured and more forceful indeed.

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