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Low Pain Threshold or Low Pain Tolerance? Which is it?

Why does it matter if we know the difference? We can never know too much about how pain affects the body. The more you know, the more empowsered you are - for yourself or to help those in chronic pain.

These two terms and concepts are often misused and considered to mean the same thing - pain threshold and pain tolerance. They are actually quite different meanings. It is vital for health practitioners to know the difference in order to understand the needs of clients and patients. Pain tolerance is the amount of pain someone can stand before breaking down - physically or mentally. 

Now, someone with a low threshold can have a high tolerance and vice versa. Imagine someone who rarely feels pain but then has a major injury. Because they have little experience dealing with pain, their tolerance might be low. Meanwhile, someone who’s in pain all the time due to a low threshold may be able to function even at high pain levels that would seriously impair someone else.

A person with a low threshold and low tolerance may be severely debilitated anytime they’re in pain. Someone with a high threshold and high tolerance, on the other hand, may rarely notice being in pain.
People with a low threshold and/or low tolerance can be harshly judged by others. It’s important to realize that these people aren’t “making a big deal” out of nothing, and they’re not “weak.” These are physiological responses that we can’t control.

So if someone else feels pain from something you think shouldn’t be painful, try to understand that their experience may be very different from yours. That said, these levels can and do change over time. In someone with fibromyalgia, it may even be different during flares than it is during remissions when symptom levels are lower.

LEARN MORE about those with fibromyalgia and their thresholds and tolerances in a webinar video titled, Understanding Fibromyalgia. Order it for only $47 and receive in your inbox the webinar presentation, study guide, audio and research showing that reflexology reduces pain in those who suffer with fibromyalgia. This short course focuses on giving health professionals a knowledge base on how they can help patients and clients with FM. 
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