Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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I seem to be able to sense when other people are in pain. Some of my friends say that I'm psychic. Is that possible?

You may be someone who is very accurate in reading other people's body language. Many people who are in pain exhibit pain behaviors that are subtle but visible to the sensitive or extremely observant person. For example, facial expressions such as wincing or even tension around the eyes or mouth can communicate discomfort and/or pain. Some people also demonstrate protective pain behaviors that are not always evident unless you are looking for them. This may include increased muscle tension to guard against sudden movements. Holding, touching, or rubbing an injured or painful area may be gestures that you are picking up on. The person in pain may give some audible signs of distress. Grunts, sighs, and even little moans direct our attention to their situation. Avoiding certain movements or activities is another way people in pain express their discomfort. Sometimes observing the absence of movement is a telltale sign of pain behavior that communicates a message. Accurate perception of another person's experience is called empathic accuracy. Empathy refers to ability to recognize or understand another person's state of mind or emotion. It is often referred to as the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Empathic accuracy is the degree to which you are able to accurately identify another person's feelings or thoughts. Studies show that strangers may actually be more accurate in gauging someone else's pain. Partners living with chronic pain patients may start to ignore pain behaviors. This helps reduce frustration or even anger on the part of the healthy spouse in order to protect the relationship. Anyone in pain appreciates someone who recognizes their suffering. Your sensitivities may be a wonderful way to support such individuals -- especially when family members' patience has worn thin.


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