It’s time to bust open a few myths about pain, everything from what pain actually is, to what it does to our brains: 

  • Myth #1: Pain is the result of nerves sending impulses to the brain. Yes, and no. Kathryn Weiner is the director of the American Academy of Pain Management. And she says that pain certainly starts out as an electrical signal traveling along a nerve. But our emotions, culture, and personal experience can change our perception of those signals. For example, toddlers in some Asian countries routinely eat hot peppers that would have adults, not used to eating spicy food, begging for water.

  • Another myth: Women can tolerate more pain than men. That’s False. Women actually have more nerve receptors than men. Which means, they feel pain more intensely and hurt for longer periods from the same injury than men do. However, we, men, tend to act like we’re in more pain - because we’re not used to dealing with strong emotions. 

  • And the final myth about pain: Rest is the best medicine. That’s certainly true for what doctors call acute pain - like a twisted ankle. But Dr. Edward Laskowski, a pain expert at the Mayo Clinic, says that for chronic pain - like a bad back – taking too much downtime can weaken muscles……Which can lead to increased pain and discomfort. It’s also why people with bad backs often get relief from muscle-stretching exercises like yoga and pilates – which help release pain-killing endorphins.