Published on February 7th, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria0
Distraction an Effective Pain Management Tool, Study Says
From the files of “shut the f*ck up and pass the demerol” comes a study out of Columbia University indicating that distracting a subject from pain may actually lessen the intensity of pain felt.
It seems that without that pesky feeling of well-being and general stress-freedom that comes from use of drugs to dull pain, averting the attention of a subject in pain could be effective as a pain relief method, perhaps markedly so. Study researcher Jason Buhle researched the effects of distraction to manage pain, and commented on a drug-free combination that he says worked well when tested:
“Both placebo and distraction are effective mechanisms for reducing pain. You can combine them and you don’t lose anything.”
The 33-person study was published in last month’s edition of Psychological Science, and involved using a device that applied heat to subjects’ skin, exposing them to some pain. Some participants were told that a cream applied before the machine was to dull pain, and others were told that the cream was used to operate the device. Buhle says that those in the latter group did not register as much pain when distracted:
“It’s clear that [distraction] is very powerful, and it was not uncommon for someone with a distraction condition to say, ‘Did you really turn it on?'” Buhle said. “Sometimes they won’t even feel the pain… It is striking to see.”
Distraction may develop to be an alternative to placebos, which doctors prefer not to use as they require lying to patients about the treatment’s purpose.