It's been a mystery why some people can withstand pain better than others.
Now a new study suggests that genetics may play a role in whether your pain
tolerance is low or high.
Researchers pinpointed four genes that could help explain why perceptions of
pain differ from person to person.
"Our study is quite significant because it provides an objective way to
understand pain and why different individuals have different pain tolerance
levels," study author Dr Tobore Onojjighofia, with Proove Biosciences and
a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said in an academy news release.
"Identifying whether a person has these four genes could help doctors
better understand a patient's perception of pain," Onojjighofia explained.
The research was supported by Proove Biosciences.
Levels of pain perception
The study involved more than 2 700 people taking prescription
, called opioids
(commonly known as narcotics), for chronic
pain. The participants were asked to rate their pain on a scale from zero
to 10. After excluding those who reported their pain as zero, the researchers
divided the remaining patients into three groups depending on their pain score.
Of all the participants, 9% were classified as having low pain perception.
Meanwhile 46% of the patients were considered to have moderate pain perception.
Finally, 45 %of the participants were rated as having high pain perception.
The participants were also evaluated for the following genes: COMT, DRD2,
DRD1 and OPRK1.
The DRD1 gene was more common among those with low pain perception, the
study revealed. The researchers found this gene variant was 33% more prevalent
in the low-pain group than in the high-pain group.
Developing new therapies
For those with moderate pain, the COMT and OPRK genes were seen more. COMT was
25% more common in those with moderate pain than those with high pain
perception. OPRK was 19% more prevalent, the investigators found.
Meanwhile, the DRD2 gene variant was 25 % more common among those with a
high pain perception than those with moderate pain.
"Chronic pain can affect every other part of life," Onojjighofia
said. "Finding genes that maybe play a role in pain perception could
provide a target for developing new therapies and help physicians better
understand their patients' perceptions of pain."
The study findings are scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of
Neurology's annual meeting in Philadelphia. Research presented at medical
meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
According to its website, California-based Proove provides doctors with
"information to improve the selection, dosing, and evaluation of
medications. The company offers proprietary laboratory testing reimbursed by