An inconsequential contemplation of pain

Although I’ve experienced intense pain as I’m sure most people have, I’ve never really given much thought to the mechanics of it. However, as the title implies, this is not a scientific examination of pain, but neither is it meant to play it down.

I’ve often watched televised matches in disgust as professional soccer players writhe and wail on the pitch when brough down in a foul, (in apparent agony, or so I thought). In my experience rugby players don’t ever shriek and howl as much, so the natural inclination was to conclude that soccer players were a bunch of sissies just looking for attention and sympathy from the crowds… and the referee, while the former are made of sterner stuff.

Seems I may have been wrong.

This weekend I watched in an admittedly inebriated stupor as a close friend injured her knee quite dreadfully while playing soccer. Her teary eyes quite clearly attested to the pain she was in, and it was not until a day later when she got the hospital’s diagnosis, that we learnt of the full extent of the injury.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

There was a complete disruption of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and significant damage to the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL), coupled with some muscle damage. Now I don’t really need to suffer a similar demolishing to know that it must have been severely painful, and still is after having just spoken to her. She will require reconstructive surgery and at least one source I have looked at, estimates a recuperation period that could extend up to six months. Ouch!

So where is this all leading to?

You’ve probably heard the expression that women are much better at tolerating pain than men, and thought it was bollocks. Well I can tell you that my lady friend handled it pretty darn well, and still is. She was back at work today, on crutches, walking up several flights of stairs, for crying out loud.The studies I’ve read here and here seem to indicate that women feel pain more intensely, while men have a higher pain threshold. While the studies look mainly at biological factors, it seems that social and psychological factors also play a part.

And my conclusion…

Even though the science may suggest that men can handle higher intensities of pain, I’m pretty convinced that women deal with it much better.

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