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Distraction Reduces Pain, Study Finds
When you distract yourself from pain, you actually hurt less, a new study suggests.
Study participants whoِ wereِ subjected toِ slight pain onِ their forearms reported lessِ discomfort whenِ theyِ were asked toِ perform a distracting mental test asِ the pain wasِ delivered.
Moreover, whenِ participants wereِ givenِ a placebo pain relief cream, andِ distracted atِ the sameِ time, theirِ pain wasِ evenِ more reduced.
You canِ combine themِ andِ you don’tِ lose anything, saidِ study researcher Jason Buhle, whoِ conducted theِ research asِ part ofِ hisِ doctoral dissertation fromِ Columbia University.
The study was published Jan. 18 in the journal Psychological Science.
Hey, look over there!
Distraction hasِ beenِ found toِ reduce pain inِ the past, Buhle said, butِ the newِ study showed thatِ those benefits couldِ comeِ in addition toِ thoseِ ofِ a placebo.
The study involved 33 participants.
As a distraction, theِ participants tookِ what isِ called a 3-back test, whereِ theyِ were givenِ a series ofِ letters, andِ had toِ sayِ whether a letter wasِ theِ sameِ asِ the letter thatِ hadِ beenِ listed threeِ earlier.
By contrast, he said, Nobody says that after the placebo.
Moreover, theِ use ofِ a placebo didِ not appearِ to change howِ well participants performed onِ the 3-back test, whichِ would haveِ indicated someِ thought beingِ devoted toِ theِ placebo itself.
Ian Cook, director ofِ the UCLA Depression Research & Clinic Program, saidِ the study helps point toِ a newِ path forِ non-drug treatments forِ pain.
It wouldِ beِ interesting toِ seeِ the effect ofِ distraction onِ other conditions whereِ theِ placebo effect hasِ shown anِ impact, suchِ asِ anxiety, Cook said.
Mostly, heِ said, itِ hasِ beenِ used inِ the form ofِ humor, influenced byِ a 1976 article byِ Norman Cousins aboutِ the healing power ofِ a positive attitude, published inِ the New England Journal ofِ Medicine.
But distraction goes beyond humor.
It’s notِ clear whetherِ itِ hasِ to beِ something that’sِ humorous, orِ whether itِ canِ beِ anythingِ else thatِ engages attention andِ distracts form theِ painful experience, saidِ Cook.
The useِ ofِ placebos inِ medicine hasِ beenِ controversial, inِ part becauseِ it relies onِ deceiving patients toِ beِ effective.
Many physicians do, evidently…they’ll prescribe anِ antibiotic forِ a viral illness, evenِ though that’sِ notِ likelyِ to haveِ anyِ biological benefit atِ all, heِ said.
Cook, who specializes in depression, said he would not prescribe it for his patients.
It doesn’tِ seem toِ beِ of great benefit there, heِ said.
Once theِ person learns they’veِ beenِ taking a placebo, onceِ they learn they’veِ beenِ deceived, theِ benefits tend toِ dissipate veryِ rapidly..