Crossed Hands Who could believe that simply crossing arms can lessen pain? Well, that’s true as an investigation by UCL claims that crossing the arms can reduce the intensity of pain received while undergoing a painful stimulus on the hand. This posture possibly confuses the brain and therefore decreases the intensity of the pain sensation.

During the study, a laser was employed for generating a four millisecond pin prick of ‘pure pain,’ which means pain without touch on the hands of a small group of eight participants. This procedure was then repeated with the arms crossed. Subjects rated their perception of the intensity of the pain. Simultaneously authors measured their electrical brain responses through electroencephalography (EEG).

Both participants’ reports and the EEG revealed that the perception of pain was weaker when the arms were crossed. It is predicted that certain areas of the brain contain a map of the right body that is activated with the map of right external space. So together they may lead to a highly effective process of sensory stimuli. However, when the arms are crossed, these maps are supposedly not activated together. Hence, they allegedly become less effective towards sensory stimuli. Dr Giandomenico Iannetti, lead author of the paper from the UCL department of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience and colleagues believe that the study findings can open doors to novel innovative clinical therapies for reducing pain.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal PAIN.