Drinking Water Might Help Decrease Your Sensitivity To Pain

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Does Thirst Make You Feel More Pain? Fibromyalgia Related News

    The findings of a new study suggest that drinking water might help decrease your sensitivity to pain. Going without a drink can make you more sensitive to pain, according to researchers.

    Australian pain expert Dr. Michael Farrell of the Howard Florey Institute in Melbourne and team report their findings in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    "This is another demonstration of the plasticity of pain responses," he says.

    "In this particular instance a mild perturbation of electrolyte levels, which is fundamentally what gives rise to thirst ... is enough to modify the pain response."

    Farrell and team studied the relationship between thirst and pain in 10 people.

    The study participants had pressure applied to their thumbs to induce mild pain and were given saline injections to stimulate thirst.

    The researchers used a PET or positron emission tomography scan to measure blood flow in the brains before and after.

    The results showed that people who were thirsty felt more pain.

    Two regions of the brain (the pregenual cingulate and ventral orbitofrontal cortex), which were not turned on by either input alone, lit up suggesting a location where the two sensations were being integrated.

    The researchers did not find that pain affected thirst levels, but Farrell says this could be because the participants were not made very thirsty in the first place and any decrease would have been hard to measure.

    The logic behind the findings

    Farrell says the team had speculated there might be circuits in the brain that allow one sensation to modulate another, which is important from the point of view of survival.

    Hunger, thirst, tiredness and pain, for example, don't conveniently happen at the same time, he says, so it's important for the body to prioritise.

    He says pain is accentuated because it is more important to survival than mild thirst.

    "The sensation with the most immediate implications for survival is pushed to the forefront of attention," says Farrell.

    Drinking to cut pain?

    Farrell says the findings suggest it could be wise for people who are about to go through a painful experience should drink more water beforehand.

    He says evidence from different types of studies also support this relationship between drinking water and pain.

    But could people deliberately use dehydration to maximise pain, say via torture?

    Not necessarily, says Farrell.

    "We suspect if they got dehydrated enough that the overwhelming sense of thirst would probably make pain less rather than more."

    Previous studies in rats have shown that mild thirst makes the animals feel more pain but severe dehydration actually dulls pain, he says.

    And he says, this too makes sense from the point of view of survival.

    If you were very dehydrated it would pay to suppress pain because it might get in the way of your search for water, he says.

    Ethical limitations of the study

    Farrell says it would have been too hard on the study participants, who already spent up to three hours on the table, to test whether drinking decreased pain.

    "They've got this plastic mask holding their head perfectly still and they've got both arms spread out, one of them with a hypertonic solution going into one vein and the other one getting radioactive isotopes. It would have been intolerable," he says.

    And testing whether dehydration would have dulled pain would be similarly tricky ethically, he says.

    By Anna Salleh, for ABC Science Online

  2. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    Nana...very nasty stuff you've got there! What a mess. Thank goodness for bottled water.

    I, too, should be pain-free as I drink constantly. But, maybe it does help, I don't know. I'm not going to stop to compare.

    Good article. Thanks for posting.

  3. Smiffy

    Smiffy Member

    I only ever drink water, & loads of it, as I have interstitial cystitis. I'm still in horrible pain tho'!
  4. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I think they want to play with our minds!! You know, they tell us this, so when we drink water, we think we're not in pain! Doesn't work, though, does it?!!!!!