Pain Management Using Touch

A new study by the University of London reported in the Current Biology’s September issue, reveals more about the mechanism of pain. Have you ever noticed how we clutch our hand when it hurts? It is because this touching offers pain relief, the study reveals.

In an experimental setting, Professor Haggard and Dr. Marjolein Kammers examined the subjects’ reactions to pain from a Thermal Grill Illusion.  In the study, it was found that those subjects who performed self touch, experienced less pain.

Previously conducted studies have revealed the significance of body representation when it comes to experiencing pain.

For instance there is the phantom pain felt by those who have had a part of their body amputated but who continue to experience a ‘Phantom pain’ in that region as though the amputated extremity was still present, can be lessened in time. This can be done by helping the brain focus on an updated representation of the body.

The researchers feel that the findings of this study could be put to practical use as well by creating “therapies aimed at strengthening the multisensory representation of the body possibly can be practical for the decrease of pain” since chronic pain affects a lot of people and 62% of sufferers prefer alternative treatments for pain management.