Text messages can do a lot of things, but would you believe me if I told you texting might help to relieve physical pain? Because apparently it's true, according to new research. The study that produced this finding was created to see what the physical ramifications of texting were on pain; recently published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, it produced fascinating results. Here's how it all went down.
The researchers studied 67 participants in New York who were all undergoing treatment for chronic pain disorders and illnesses for two weeks. Participants were divided into two groups: One group that received two supportive text messages along with their regular pain treatment sessions — texts that said things like, "You are a strong and courageous person. You have made it through many struggles and will not give up" — and another group which received no texts prior to their pain treatment. During the first week, neither group received any text messages before their treatment as the study's control.
In order to see how these texts, or lack thereof, did or didn't influence their pain levels, the study participants used an app they used to record how much pain they were feeling twice a day and also selected a photo to illustrate how they were feeling visually. The researchers found that those who received text messages along with their pain treatment experienced significantly less pain compared to those who didn't. Lead study author Jamie Guillory commented on this phenomenon to Fusion, saying, "Just receiving two messages a day that included simple, encouraging phrases was enough to decrease perceived pain levels in chronic pain patients."
There were some catches however. First, the study used a small group of people that didn't include many under the age of 30 — and second, the results only held true for participants who were in relationships. That's right: The pain relief acquired through text messaging only occured for those who happened to be dating someone at the time. Those who were single didn't experience the same positive health benefits.
Obviously more research needs to be done before we can say definitively that texting can help relieve pain. However, it's worth noting that other research has connected texting habits to physical pain. Here's what we know so far:
1. Texting Might Prevent Post-Surgical Pain
Guillory also worked on an earlier study that found that people who actively texted before going into surgery experienced significantly less pain and didn't need as much post-op treatment as those who didn't text at all. So the next time you're going under the knife, pull out your phone first!
2. Texting May Cause Neck Pain
A 2009 study found that those who type long text messages frequently report experiencing the same types of chronic neck pain that those who spent a lifetime heavily typing did. So chin up — literally — if you're constantly writing out paragraphs on your smartphone.
3. Texting Can Help You Stick to Treatment Plans
Research into how text messaging between doctors and patients who were living with HIV/AIDS found that those who texted with their doctors were much more likely to stick to their drug regimes; furthermore, they were also found to have decreased their viral load compared to those who didn't text with their treatment providers. Another study conducted by a social welfare professor found that when he texted with patients receiving treatment for depression, they felt more supported and valued than those who didn't receive texts.
4. Texting Can Help You Remember To Put Your Sunblock On
The Center for Connected Health conducted a study where they sent text reminders for people to apply sunscreen. After doing this for six weeks, they found that adherence to sunscreen recommendations doubled from normal rates to 56 percent! 89 percent also said they would recommend the service to others, so definitely text your friends to remind them to apply sunscreen.
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