Pain is a serious problem, affecting more American citizens than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. A recent report from Fusion.net thinks that there might be a very unique cure for pain: texting.
According to a new study from the Clinical Journal of Pain, a supportive text message received by patients with chronic pain significantly lowered their pain levels. Lead author of the study Jamie Guillory, a researcher with RTI International, told Fusion that “just receiving two messages a day that included simple, encouraging phrases was enough to decrease perceived pain levels in chronic pain patients.”
However, the study has a catch. It works much better for patients that have a large social circle, like people who are married. Guillory points out:
“Married participants had higher perceived levels of social support at the beginning of the experiment, which is consistent with previous studies that show married people to have easier access to social support and larger support networks.”
In the 67 study participants, ages 30 to 80, receiving text messages did not effect those who were single, divorced, or widowed nearly as intensely. That being said, it did still work. Guillory clarifies:
“Our findings suggest that similar messages sent by friends or loved ones could also have pain attenuating effects.”
The study main finding is that a display of emotional support from a loved one can substantially help to alleviate pain. These kinds of connections not only decrease the physical pain itself, but also the patient’s perception of the pain as well, as documented through surveys throughout the day of their pain levels.
Guillory has also published a study claiming that patients undergoing surgery require less pain treatment while actively texting. Texting actively distracts the brain from focusing on the pain, and using that time to communicate with loved ones helps to alleviate it.