Pain is an interesting thing. Everyone knows what pain is — and if they don’t, they have a pretty good idea of what it is. That being said, nobody knows how others experience pain. In fact, as human beings, we tend to just assume that we all feel pain the exact same way. In all likelihood, this is not the case — and some scientific studies have found that people might, in fact, experience pain differently.
In today’s blog, we will be discussing pain, a few of the factors that are believed to influence how someone might personally experience pain, and a few of the pain management techniques that can be used to combat chronic or acute pains.
What Is Pain?
Pain has many definitions — all closely resembling the definition included in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary stating that pain is “physical suffering caused by illness or injury.” While pain has long been known as a discomfort, it has almost been generalized to the point where any feeling that is less than comfortable becomes known as pain. But do all people experience pain the same way? Some studies have tried to make the case that people don’t.
How Do People Experience Pain Differently?
So you have lived on the earth long enough to come to the conclusion that you personally do not experience pain the same way every time. After all, it feels very different when you stub your toe than it does when you break your arm. But if you can feel different pains, isn’t it possible that other people might experience pain differently than you do?
It has been found by a variety of studies and the culmination of common medical knowledge across time that while pain is not something that can be empirically measured, it does vary predictably when certain personal factors are considered. Gender, ethnicity, personality, culture, and a variety of other personal factors can all influence how someone experiences pain.
Below, we are going to dive into just how those personal factors can influence how someone feels pain.
The great debate. Who is more tolerant of pain? Men or women?
While we have no doubt that you and a couple of friends could argue about what gender is tougher while providing solid evidence for both sides, there is research that indicates the trends that actually determine how different genders experience pain — and no, there is not a “winner.”
In 1998, Pamela Paulson and colleagues scanned the brains of 10 men and 10 women as they applied heat to their forearms (1). The men and women participating in the study were told to describe how the heat felt on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being that they felt no heat and 10 being “barely tolerable pain.” When the study was concluded, the research team found that women consistently rated the 50oC stimulus as more painful than the male participants did. Additionally, it was found that the female participants’ brains were more active in the areas of the brain that evaluate pain than the males.
But does this mean that men are less susceptible to pain than women are? Absolutely not — and this is where gender comes into play when discussing how people experience pain. It doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that men (and the male ego) are more likely to go out of their way to exhibit pain tolerance, but science has shown that both men and women might alter their tolerance and pain thresholds depending on the situation that they are in.
In 1991, a similar experiment was held — except this time, the researches were carefully chosen to measure how other people affect how others experience pain (2). In an effort to see how the presence of the opposite gender affected how people experienced pain, the men were tested by an attractive woman and the women were tested by an attractive man. To no surprise, this drastically affected how people reacted.
While there might not be evidence to measure exactly how different pain is experienced between genders, there is enough to prove that each gender might react differently to pain in different situations. But gender isn’t the only thing that influences how people feel pain.
Ethnicity & Cultural Values
Alongside gender, there is plenty of observable evidence that suggests that ethnicity and cultural values are also large factors in how people experience pain.
Most studies that have been conducted in regard to ethnicity and the experience of pain have been conducted on three primary groups — white Caucasians, individuals of African descent, and individuals of Asian descent. Generally, it has been found that white Caucasians are more tolerant to pain than those of African descent and Asian descent — but the origin of the ethnicity alone is not enough to determine how someone will experience pain.
In 2007, a team from the Nihon University School of Dentistry at Matsudo compared the experience of pain between participants that were caucasian Belgians and participants that were Japanese. After applying a needle-like tool to their cheeks, it was found that Participants of Asian descent were more sensitive to the stimuli. The study also found, however, that the participants of Asian descent rated the pain as lower than the Caucasian participants did.
After concluding the study, it was theorized that the different experiences of pain could be attributed to cultural differences — being that “Japanese cultural emphasis on stoicism and the desirability of concealing pain and emotions.”
So in conclusion, much like gender, a person’s ethnicity and cultural values can influence the way that they perceive pain — even if it is the same stimuli that was applied to someone else who experiences the pain differently. But that is not all that can influence how someone experiences pain. In fact, arguably the most important factor is personality.
Last, but certainly not least, on the list of factors that influence how people experience pain is personality.
While there have been plenty of studies that have targeted the specifics of how personality affects the way that someone feels pain, we feel that it is unnecessary to dive too deep into the subject. After all, we are all human — meaning we know exactly how others act. If someone has a strong, stubborn, or even insecure personality they might experience pain differently than someone who is emotional and open about their feelings. Why is this? Because they have altered their pain threshold or their likelihood to acknowledge their pain threshold as a result of their personality.
Why Is This Important?
As a medical professional or clinician who commonly deals with people who are experiencing pain, it is important that you understand how subjective the above information is. Sure, there are some studies that claim people of Asian descent are more likely to react to pain than those of European descent — but that is not the case all across the board. Some people have strong personalities that overpower their biological reaction to pain. Sometimes women react more strongly to pain than men. Sometimes men react more to pain than women. What is important, however, is that you realize that all people experience pain in different ways, and for different reasons. But what can be done to address all of these different ways that people experience pain?
Introducing The NGUI-MATRIX
The NGUI-MATRIX is an innovative new medical treatment system that is specially designed to treat or manage a variety of different pain experience. In traditional pain management methods, different prescriptions and doses of a drug might be used to treat an ailment. But who is to say that the person’s pain threshold is accurate and that the correct dosage is being delivered. Because of this, medications are oversupplied or undersupplied to individuals solely because not all people experience pain the same way — but medicine is prescribed on a standard scale.
The NGUI-MATRIX is a non-toxic and non-invasive pain management technique that utilizes the natural body energy of the affected person to correct any abnormalities that might be causing them pain. Not only is this new pain management technique efficient in managing and reducing chronic and acute pain, but it also negates the need for prescription medicines that can be over or underprescribed.
To learn more about this innovative new pain management technique, we invite you to purchase a ticket to Grandmaster Stanley Ngui’s next speaking event or to book him for a speaking event of your own.
- Paulson, P.E., Minoshima, S., Morrow, T.J. & Casey, K.L. (1998). Gender differences in pain perception and patterns of cerebral activation during noxious heat stimulation in humans. Pain, 76, 223–229.
- Levine, F.M. & De Simone, L.L. (1991). The effects of experimenter gender on pain report in male and female subjects. Pain, 44, 69–72.
- Komiyama, O., Kawara, M. & De Laat, A. (2007). Ethnic differences regarding tactile and pain thresholds in the trigeminal region. The Journal of Pain, 8, 363–369.