Cross your fingers and swear: weird ways to end pain
Scientists discover innovative ways to alleviate pain
Scientists have discovered that crossing your fingers isn’t just for good luck, but can help alleviate pain.
A UCL study published in the science journal Current Biology found that feelings of a pain in the finger disappeared when one digit was crossed over another, suggesting that the simple action can confuse the way the brain processes sensation.
Just as optical illusions can trick the mind into misreading an image, there are various techniques that create sensory illusions and help reduce perceptions of pain. Here are a few other surprising methods to end pain.
- Look at a photo of someone you love
- Think about sex
- Count out loud
Dr Sultan’s thoughts –
“I was entertained as always to read in a newspaper (not the Daily Mail for a change) of new ways to alleviate pain without the need for painkillers. These included crossing fingers which causes some confusion and helps in blocking pain signals. At first thought crossing fingers and hoping for the best would sound more like an April Fool’s day spoof –it has been reported in other studies that crossing legs helps with dental injections. Next on the list was swearing if in pain. Next time a patient is stressed out we should really encourage than to let it all out –I’m sure they’ll all feel better not so sure about whether anything will stop hurting. Also on the list was thinking about sex as a way of reducing pain although I’m sure the general dental council would take a dim view if I suggested this to patients. All in all although the article was briefly entertaining I think I’ll still recommend that the patient takes a bloody paracetamol.”
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