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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

High Pain Tolerance Can Be a Problem: Pain is the body's natural messenger, says Dr. Harlan Sparer.

Jan 04, 2017 10:56PM ● By Dr. Harlan Sparer

Imagine for a moment that we are a warrior on a field of medieval battle and have just been severely injured. Our survival is dependent on muzzling the tremendous pain and shock of the injury to either escape or survive in battle. We are hailed after the battle and the prospect of finding a partner increases drastically as a result of our experience; thus our genes will spread across many generations.

It is fairly likely that this is the reason that a high pain tolerance exists in some people to this day. The brain filters messages travelling to it so it is not overwhelmed by unimportant signals. This filtration is sometimes excessive enough to nearly completely mask pain when its signal is vital and important. What should register as an early warning signal is so deeply muted as to seem a mild irritation, instead of breathtaking pain. As a result, the injury goes unattended to and gets worse, leading to a much more complex series of advancements to the original insult and extending, delaying or even preventing recuperation.

The problem essentially is that pain at the onset of an injury is a messenger that we don’t want to kill. It is a driving force for self-preservation that causes us to allow ourselves to heal and seek a solution to the cause. When the signals aren’t transmitted thoroughly and properly, a fracture, rupture or severe tear may remain unattended, leading to further damage. Sometimes the defective over-filtration of pain signals only affects some areas of the body.

The first step in dealing with this deficit of nerve transmission is to recognize when it is present, such as being able to shrug off injury easily or that a puncture or slash registers little to no pain. Perhaps a blunt trauma gives us a near zero pain signal; if so, we may have a high tolerance for pain.

This means that we possess a defective early warning system and may harbor mild, untreated problems in our body. We can take a moment to close our eyes and feel our body from head to toe looking for mild sensations of discomfort. Check daily to see if this feeling persists. It is quite possibly the only kind of warning we will receive until a body system breaks down.

It is possible to educate ourselves as to how to respond to our reduced awareness. Those faint feathery sensations of discomfort are possibly indicative of a more involved problem than the message getting through represents. Rely on a good diagnostic doctor or two that utilize observation and conversation to analyze. They should not be in a hurry to treat us without thoroughly understanding our problem, as well as recognizing the complication of high pain tolerance.

Increased attention to this problem will lead to an increase in wellness and longevity by adjusting our interpretation of pain signals. It’s like wearing a hearing aid. If we turn up the volume, our awareness enables us to understand the message better.

Dr. Harlan SparerDr. Harlan Sparer is a DNFT chiropractor practicing in Tempe. He can be reached at 480-245-7894 or [email protected]. For more information, visit or


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