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Why Does My Body Tolerance to Pain Change Over Time?

Pain tolerance, simply put, is the amount of pain a person can tolerate before pain becomes too painful for them to handle. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no age limit on starting physical therapy for kids, some doctors will prescribe medication as young as four years old with the hope that they will gain enough pain tolerance as they develop. Some doctors use age as a starting point, recommending it for kids as young as two who have not had pain relief from other treatment options through the first three months of life. Others begin treating kids with pain relief at an earlier age, but continue to use the medication until they are in their late teens or early twenties.


Pain tolerance differs from pain threshold, also known as pain intensity. Pain tolerance is different from pain thresholds, too. Pain tolerance only involves pain sensors being stimulated so that you can control the pain signals to your brain receives. Pain thresholds involve pain being felt, then felt, and then felt again, on an emotional level. In other words, pain relief is not merely effective when it is delivering the signal to the brain; pain relief is also effective when it does not produce any such pain-releasing signals.

If you have just been treated for a painful injury, the pain felt might be so severe that your body is in a state of shock. The signals coming from your brain to your pain sensors may not come at the right time. When you do finally get those pain relief signals, it is often too late to do anything about it. If, however, you take pain medication long enough before the symptoms of your injury heal, the messages sent by your brain to your pain sensors are likely to have come at just the right time. Now, if you take the drug, it probably will work. If, on the other hand, you don’t take the drug, and the symptoms of your injury are not greatly improved, chances are good that your pain tolerance will be very low.


Many factors can affect your pain tolerance. These factors can either increase or decrease your pain tolerance. Age, for example, reduces pain tolerance. As we age, we tend to become more cautious about the things that cause us pain, and we lose some of our ability to gauge pain levels in our bodies. If we take drugs designed to reduce pain levels long enough, our brains will learn to be less discerning, and we will start to depend on those drugs for pain relief.

Other factors that affect pain tolerance include gender, ethnicity, physical health, and the quality of life lived. Different people will react to drugs in different ways; some people will require lower doses of a drug to achieve the same effect as someone else. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to pain relief; if a drug doesn’t work well enough in one individual’s body, it probably will not work well enough in another person’s body, either.


If you’ve been trying to find pain relief, and haven’t had much success, you may want to consider changing your diet and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine. Your diet can affect pain tolerance differently, and a change in diet can sometimes mean pain relief for some people and not for others. You’ll also want to make sure that you get enough sleep, and drink enough water each day to keep yourself hydrated.

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