MILAN - A New Zealand study has revealed the relationship between hydration and pain perception and how our bodies respond in relation to blood pressure and blood flow to the brain. The results were surprising and can be used in the medical field, where patients are treated with painkillers and cognitive-behavioural therapies.
Dr Toby Mündel and his team at Massey University in New Zealand recruited a group of participants in an excellent state of health for the study. The sample was divided into two subgroups: the first was asked to continue drinking according to its normal daily routine, while the second was forbidden from drinking fluids for 24 hours. At various stages of the research, the participants’ feet were immersed in icy water (between 0°C and 3°C) for four minutes. “It’s a great way to create pain” - explained Mündel – “and it’s a standard way to challenge the body and study its reactions. It’s also a clinical test used to measure how a person’s cardiovascular system works.”
Published as a report in the Huffington Post, Canada, on the Journal of Psychophysiology, the results showed that participants with increased water stress felt more intense pain than those who were correctly hydrated. Heart rate monitors have also revealed how the most immediate effect of this suffering is less blood supply to the brain.
Suggestions for medical treatment
For the authors of the study, it might be useful to add the value of the patients’ hydration levels to the results. In particular, the most common treatments, such as painkillers and cognitive-behavioural therapy, may be less effective in dehydrated patients. Furthermore, correct hydration can have a positive effect on relieving the chronic pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, migraines and muscular-skeletal disorders.
by Alessandro Conte