Pain Management Research and Athletic Pain Tolerance
Athletes are able to sustain injury and pain while still continuing on in their sport, which suggests that they have a higher pain tolerance than non-athletes. Although research can be inconsistent and even contradictory, studies on pain in athletes indicates that athletes can experience pain differently and allow them to carry on during their sport.
The June 2012 issue of PAIN reports that researchers from Heidelberg University have discovered in a meta-analysis of previous research that athletes can in fact tolerate higher levels of pain than non-athletes, but there was no difference between athletes and non-athletes in terms of pain threshold, i.e. the lowest intensity of stimulation at which pain is experienced.
“Our analysis reveals that pain perception differs in athletes compared to normally active controls. Studies in athletes offer the opportunity for an evaluation of the physical and psychological effects of regular activity on pain perception, which might foster the development of effective types of exercise for relief in pain patients.”
They observed that athletes consistently had a higher pain tolerance than normally active adults, although the magnitude of pain that athletes were able to withstand varied depending upon the discipline of the sport they participated in. For instance, endurance athletes had a moderate tolerance for pain with relatively equal scores, whilst those participating in game sports had a higher pain tolerance compared with other athletes. However, there were large variations in the results, which suggests the physical and psychological profiles of endurance athletes are more similar, whilst those of athletes involved in game sports are more diverse.
Dr. Tesarz states that the results clearly demonstrate that regular exercise is linked to a higher pain tolerance, whilst the association with pain thresholds are rather more ambiguous and tends to have clinical implications.
“Numerous studies of the effect of physical exercise in pain patients demonstrate a consistent impact on quality of life and functioning without an improvement in pain scores. It may be advisable in exercise treatment for pain patients to focus on the development of their pain-coping skills that would affect tolerance, rather than the direct alleviation of pain threshold.”
He concludes, saying:
“Further research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between physical activity and modifications in pain perception, and to identify the involved psychological factors and neurobiological processes. However, the observation that pain perception is modifiable by physical activity provides promise for the use of non-invasive methods with few side effects for patients with chronic pain conditions.”
If you’ve been experiencing any pain for more than a few days, consider the help of a pain management specialist. They’re able to accurately diagnose the cause of pain and develop a plan to recovery, most often without surgery.
Source: Medical News Today