Painkilling texting

There are many ways in which text messaging can be painful. When the autocorrect function corrects your mis-typing of “lust” to an unintended “lush”…that’s painful. When you are making a sound point about the future of the relationship to your significant other and they keep texting while you talk…that’s painful too. When someone in the movie theatre (you know where this is going) just has to receive and send texts during the film…that’s incredibly painful (especially when you kick them in the shins). So it may surprise to you know that sending text messages to a stranger during surgery can actually reduce pain.

The new study involved patients receiving general anaesthetics for minor surgeries. Prior to surgery the subjects were randomly assigned to either text message with a friend, text message with a stranger, play a mobile phone game, or do nothing. The amount of anaesthetic required to achieve pain relief was then monitored.

It was found that both texting conditions and the game playing reduced the need for pain management but only when texting a stranger reduced the need more than merely being distracted (by playing the game).

The reason for this is that when you text a friend you are more likely to talk about things like the upcoming surgery and may simply share anxiety. However, when you text a stranger you tend to be defining who you are and what your values are and we know from other research that reinforcing your core values increases your pain tolerance.

It seems then that if you need to reduce your pain levels, forget calling a friend…text a stranger.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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