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Overcoming the Ouch Factor

Do you dread getting a shot? If so, here’s a study that may help ease the pain of your next injection. Researchers in Germany looked at the ways a group of volunteers responded to painful and non-painful sensations. The participants were asked to watch video clips of a hand being pricked by a needle, touched with a cotton-tipped swab, or simply an image of a hand alone. As they watched the video, the volunteers received electrical sensations, some of which hurt and some of which didn’t. The participants reported more pain when they saw a needle pricking a hand than when they saw the hand alone. This held true even if they were given electrical zaps when looking at the plain image. The researchers concluded that previous encounters with needles boost pain levels when we watch ourselves getting injections. The study also suggests that our expectations of pain influence how much pain we actually feel when we get a shot. Bottom line: you’ll probably feel less pain if you don’t watch the next time you get an injection. The study was published in the May 2012 issue of the journal Pain.

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