How To Increase Pain Tolerance? How Does It Effect?

How To Increase Pain Tolerance

Pain is a discomfort generally caused due to injury or trauma. It is both a sensory and emotional experience. It can be physical and mental.

The amount of pain that each human body can tolerate varies between individuals. What may just be a pinprick to someone may cause extreme discomfort for others.

Our pain tolerance is the amount of pain we can suffer without interfering with our daily routine. It is the maximum amount of pain one can tolerate. 

Understanding Pain

Though the feeling of pain is universal, the degree of pain an individual suffers is subjective. As illustrated before, mild discomfort for one person may be much more severe for another.

Pain is the body’s method of alerting us to a problem. It draws our attention to an injury or trauma so we may take measures to heal it.

Pain can occur anywhere in the body, and the degree of pain depends on many factors, including the type of injury, the area in which the injury is sustained and the level of tolerance. 

Understanding Pain

Pain also warns the body against any activity that may harm it. Hence, pain has an integral role in maintaining the human body and keeping it safe despite its obvious discomfort. 

Pain is generally categorised into acute and chronic. Acute pain is short-term pain, and chronic is persistent pain. This categorisation is based on the duration of the pain.

Depending on the location, pain can also be categorised into neuropathic, nociceptive or radicular pain.

Neuropathic pain occurs when there is an injury or damage to the nervous system, nociceptive pain occurs in case of muscular or tissue pain, and radicular pain is a type of radiating pain that occurs in the back or hip and moves to the legs through the spine. 

There is no prescribed way of describing pain. Since each person experiences pain differently, there is no fixed standard for pain.

While we cannot define the pain per se, we can communicate the discomfort it causes. Pain can only be explained in comparisons.

There are many charts and metrics for measuring pain. Though this does not accurately describe pain, it gives the medical professional an idea of the same. 

Threshold Of Pain

The pain threshold is when a person becomes aware of the pain. A superficial cut or prick may not always draw our attention, but a stab would alert the body. Some people have a higher pain threshold.

Pain threshold is different from pain tolerance. The former refers to being aware of the pain, while the latter refers to suffering the pain without raising concern about it.

It is the lowest intensity in which distress is perceived as painful. It differs between persons depending on age, environmental factors, exposure and frequency.  

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What Is Pain Tolerance?

As opposed to pain threshold, this is the maximum degree of pain that a person can tolerate or suffer. Physiological, psychological, attitudinal, emotional and environmental factors affect how persons perceive pain. Pain tolerance changes with time, and we can even condition ourselves to increase our pain tolerance.

Stress, depression, insomnia, certain drugs, genetic disposition, age, gender, our mind and level of engagement or activity are all parameters that affect pain tolerance. 

Pain Tolerance

There are many methods to test pain tolerance. This includes dolorimetry, in which the dolorimeter asses the threshold and tolerance level by applying varying stimuli to the body.

The cold pressor method is another popular method of assessing pain tolerance and threshold. The hand is dipped into ice-cold water to determine the response.

Apart from these tests, there are various questionnaires with measurement scales against each response that helps give an approximate understanding of pain tolerance and threshold.

How To Increase Pain Tolerance?

Increasing pain tolerance helps to increase the threshold of pain. This can be done in the following ways.

  1. Do not fear pain; embrace it: Pain is as much a psychological response as physical. For most people, the fear of pain rather than the pain itself causes low pain tolerance. Hence, the first step is to understand the pain and understand that it is the body’s way of telling you to take care. As we change our perception, we learn to embrace the pain.  
  2. Regular exposure to stimuli: It is one such method of increasing pain tolerance. For example, a person working who regularly exposes themselves to strenuous tasks may have a higher tolerance and threshold for muscular pains than those who are sedentary. Vice versa, a person who constantly exposes themselves to blue light from digital screens has a higher tolerance of pain in case of headaches compared to someone who rarely uses the same.  
  3. Distracting the mind: Often, pain tolerance decreases as we become aware of the pain. Distracting our mind from the pain is an excellent way to take focus away from the pain. This makes the pain easier to manage and tolerate. This can be done by way of vocalisation or mental imagery.
  4. Alternative pain management techniques: These include various exercises such as relaxation techniques and biofeedback that help to distract from the pain and build tolerance.
  5. Relieving the illness: Certain medical conditions may cause persons to be susceptible to pain. Curing this or relieving the body of such disease helps improve pain tolerance. 
  6. Yoga: The use of physical and mental training in yoga helps to condition the body and mind and enables the practitioner to build resistance against pain slowly.
  7. Exercise: Constant movement improves tolerance to pain as it engages the body and mind. People who spend more time in a sedentary lifestyle are more susceptible to pain than constantly active people.

Though we may prefer a higher pain tolerance, this may not always be good as it desensitises the body against trauma.

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Persons may fail to take note of discomfort or warning signs in their body due to their high tolerance leading to illnesses.  


  1. Is Pain Tolerance The Same As Pain Threshold?

No. Pain tolerance and threshold are different though they affect each other simultaneously and go hand in hand. Pain tolerance is the maximum pain a person can tolerate. The pain threshold is the minimum point at which you acknowledge the pain. Persons with high tolerance have a higher threshold and vice versa.

  1. Is It Good To Increase Pain Tolerance?

There is no problem in increasing your pain tolerance. Persons with low pain tolerance would find it difficult to manage even the slightest pain. Having some resistance and tolerance makes it easy to manage pain. 

  1. How Does Age Affect Pain?

Pain is perceived differently among persons of different ages. There are many studies underway regarding this. Since older persons are more exposed to stimuli, their pain threshold is usually much higher, especially in persons who have been highly active throughout their life. However, studies show high and low tolerance amongst elderly persons indicating that pain is subjective.

  1. Do Women Have More Pain Tolerance?

While women can withstand pain better as they may become desensitised to some pains like cramps, generally, women have a low pain threshold and low pain tolerance in comparison.

  1. What Happens If We Are Desensitised To Pain?

If you become desensitised to pain, you may not take note of the warnings in your body. Whenever the human body experiences discomfort, it sends out stimuli in the form of pain, and a high pain tolerance would cause a person to dismiss these signs and signals. 

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