Stimulation produced analgesia
We were all probably told as children to “rub it better” when we hurt ourselves: this is a form of stimulation produced analgesia that has been widespread for many centuries. Both cold and heat can help to reduce some types of pain.
Right through history it has been known that various sorts of stimulation can provide pain relief. Not only in China, but elsewhere such as Sri Lanka, disciplines such as Acupuncture were developed. In addition, it has been suggested that tattoo marks on the skin of the “Iceman”, "Ötzi". discovered in an Austrian glacier some years ago, represent stimulation over painful areas or acupuncture points. In the UK in the past mustard plasters and cupping were used for the relief of pain.
There is good scientific evidence for the mechanisms behind this form of pain relief, involving the Gate Control Theory of pain.
In modern Pain Medicine several forms of stimulation produced analgesia are used, notably Acupuncture , TENS and occasionally Spinal Cord Stimulation. These approaches to pain control are collectively known as neuromodulation. Further details on the history and some of the techniques used are at the International Neuromodulation Society website.
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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
Page updated 18/11/15