Learned Associations Help with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain = pain lasting 12+weeks

“A 2014 study conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers that included University of Luxembourg psychological scientist Fernand Anton provided converging evidence for the role of conditioning in pain experiences. Participants experienced a painful electric pulse to one foot while they simultaneously put one hand in a bucket of ice water, the bracing sensation of the ice water actively mitigating the pain of the shock. The researchers found that participants who heard a telephone ringtone while engaging in this active pain reduction strategy came to associate the ringtone with pain reduction; they subsequently reported significantly lower pain from the pulse when exposed only to the ringtone. The finding reinforces how learned associations can help people regulate pain.”