A recent study conducted in Norway involving over 10,000 adults has shed light on the potential of physical activity in alleviating chronic pain. The findings suggest that individuals who engage in regular physical activity exhibit a higher pain tolerance, indicating the promising role of exercise as a deterrent to chronic pain.
The research, led by Anders Årnes and his colleagues at the University Hospital of North Norway, explored the relationship between physical activity and pain tolerance. Their study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, analyzed data from the Tromsø Study, a large-scale population survey conducted periodically in Norway.
The analysis of 10,732 participants revealed a positive correlation between physical activity and pain tolerance. Those who maintained an active lifestyle demonstrated a significantly higher ability to tolerate pain compared to those leading sedentary lives. Furthermore, individuals who engaged in more intense physical activities showcased even greater resilience.
Although previous studies have hinted at the potential benefits of physical activity in mitigating chronic pain, most of them have been limited in scope or focused on specific demographic groups. This study aimed to provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between physical activity and pain tolerance.
Participants in the study reported their levels of physical activity and underwent a pain tolerance test involving submerging their hands in cold water. Statistical analysis of the data showed that individuals who reported being physically active in either round of the Tromsø Study displayed higher pain tolerance than those who reported a sedentary lifestyle in both rounds. Moreover, participants with higher overall activity levels demonstrated greater pain tolerance, and those who increased their activity levels over time exhibited a higher overall pain tolerance level.
Although the study did not establish a statistically significant relationship between changes in pain tolerance and activity levels over time, the results suggest that maintaining or increasing physical activity is associated with higher pain tolerance.
Implications and Conclusion:
Based on these findings, the researchers propose that increasing physical activity could be a potential strategy for managing chronic pain. Further research is required to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between activity and pain tolerance and explore potential therapeutic applications.
In summary, this study highlights the surprising influence of physical activity on chronic pain. Whether individuals choose to remain physically active, initiate an exercise routine, or intensify their current activities, the key message is clear: taking action, in any form, is crucial for improving pain tolerance.
“Longitudinal relationships between habitual physical activity and pain tolerance in the general population” by Anders Pedersen Årnes, Christopher Sievert Nielsen, Audun Stubhaug, Mats Kirkeby Fjeld, Aslak Johansen, Bente Morseth, Bjørn Heine Strand, Tom Wilsgaard, and Ólöf Anna Steingrímsdóttir, PLOS ONE, 24 May 2023, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0285041.
Funding: APÅ received a grant from the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about chronic pain alleviation
What is the main finding of the research study conducted in Norway?
The main finding of the research study conducted in Norway is that there is a positive correlation between physical activity and pain tolerance. Those who engage in regular physical activity have a greater ability to tolerate chronic pain.
How many participants were involved in the study?
The study involved a total of 10,732 adult participants from Norway.
What type of data was analyzed in the study?
The researchers analyzed self-reported levels of physical activity and pain tolerance data obtained through a test involving submerging participants’ hands in cold water.
Did the study show a significant relationship between activity level and changes in pain tolerance over time?
Although the study did not establish a statistically significant relationship between changes in pain tolerance and activity levels over time, it suggests that maintaining or increasing physical activity is associated with higher pain tolerance.
What are the implications of the study’s findings?
The findings suggest that increasing physical activity could be a potential strategy for managing chronic pain and enhancing pain tolerance. However, further research is needed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship and explore therapeutic applications.
Was the study funded by any organization?
Yes, the study received funding from the Northern Norway Regional Health Authority.
More about chronic pain alleviation
- Study: Longitudinal relationships between habitual physical activity and pain tolerance in the general population
- The Tromsø Study