The Most Powerful Pain Reliever Revealed
The answer is none of the above. None of these chemicals have enough power to top this weapon against pain. The most powerful pain reliever is not a chemical, a machine, or a potion. I will give you a hint. It starts with a “D” and ends with an “N”. Give up?
Distraction. Yes, that’s right; distraction is the most powerful pain reliever in the world according the David Butler, author of Explain Pain and world renowned expert. At the time, he was speaking to a group of manual therapists and doctors. No one in this audience could guess the answer. But, when he said, “Distraction is the most powerful pain reliever”, everyone else said, “Of course, brilliant” Now, before you react to this eye-opening information, imagine this:
Your house is on fire, flames shooting from most windows. All you can think about is poor, precious Mr. Kitty in the house. So, you heroically run into the inferno to save your best friend in the world, Mr. Kitty. Thankfully, you found him under the bed. Tucked under your arm, Mr. Kitty is saved. As you run to safety, you fail to notice that you are covered in 2nd degree burns until a firefighter comes to your aid. You do not even notice the pain because all that matters at that moment is that Mr. Kitty was saved from certain death. You are too distracted to notice the pain.
Maybe you have heard about other amazing pain stories that reveal the power of distraction. Did you hear about the man who was alone and pinned by a boulder in Utah a few years back? This man cut off his own arm with a Leatherman tool to save his own life. Wow, that is some serious pain control. Shark bite survivors also tell about their failure to notice any pain when they were trying to get away. Distraction is the most powerful pain reliever because you have an incredible drug cabinet in your brain. This drug cabinet is 60 times more powerful than anything manmade (much to the dismay of the pharmaceutical companies). You have a powerful built-in pain relieving system. That is something to be proud of!
Now, the question is: How can you use this knowledge to deconstruct your pain? You do not have to be in a life-threatening situation to unleash the power of distraction. Some relieve pain by participating in hobbies. Others help those in need or volunteer to distract themselves. Some people love new challenges and love to learn new things. With enough distraction, you too may find the road to recovery, or at least pain relief. Be brave because distraction truly can be the most powerful pain reliever. Tell us how you like to distract yourself away from the pain in a comment below. Sharing creates solutions!
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.