We’ve discussed the causes and the repercussions of America’s opioid crisis here on MCNTalk. This topic can feel daunting when all news is bad news. It’s for this reason that a recent piece in The Week caught our attention with their positive reporting on new research about the pain relieving power of human touch. Researchers have been using new techniques that allow them to measure physiological activity of several people at the same time, resulting in an increased understanding of how we are impacted by our interactions with others.
According to the article, research has found that subjects receiving pain stimuli reported lower levels of discomfort when holding a stranger’s hand than those who were alone. A greater reduction of pain was reported by participants if the person holding their hand was a loved one, and even more pain reduction was reported if that loved one was also felt to be highly empathetic.
Chronic pain impacts a significant percentage of the population, and this research is an indication of how isolation may be a contributor to the problem. These findings might not be the answer to the opioid crisis, but it is a reminder that great benefits can result from simple human interactions.