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Is there a pain threshold in the body?

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Is there a pain threshold in the body?

Childbirth pain is considered to be the most intense there is. A scratch, on the other hand, is hardly felt: the brain is quickly signaled that the injury is not life-threatening. But how far can pain go?

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Some kinds of pain are worse than others. For example, a splinter in our finger or a stubbed toe is nothing compared to how painful a large cut can be. This begs the question: is there a pain threshold in our bodies, or can pain be increased to the point of infinity?

Although pain can be a vital survival signal to our bodies, excessive pain is debilitating – and therefore detrimental to survival. To protect us from extreme pain, our brains use strategies such as the release of endorphins.

Ohne Hormone würden wir bestimmte Schmerzen nicht überstehen

For instance, the body of a woman who is giving birth releases more of the hormones serotonin (pain-inhibiting) and oxytocin (labor-promoting). However, this requires the woman to be able to relax. If she feels anxious and tense, however, her body releases the stress hormone adrenaline, which inhibits labor, making the birth take longer and the pain worse.

Sex hormones in men also have the function of relieving pain. Various experiments on pain have repeatedly shown that men can tolerate more pain when their bodies release testosterone as a result of attractive women performing the experiment on them.

If our personal pain threshold is exceeded, we lose consciousness

Particularly severe pain, e.g. from severe burns, serious bone fractures or deep cuts, can stimulate the vagus nerve, which is responsible for regulating heart rate and blood pressure. In this case, a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate can occur, leading to fainting. This is known as a vasovagal reaction. However, when it occurs varies from person to person.

However, fainting in response to severe pain is not a limitation imposed by our body, but primarily a self-protection mechanism. If we lose consciousness, we can temporarily move away from the source of pain and prevent further damage or injury.


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