Endogenous opioids may buffer effects of anger arousal on sensitivity to subsequent pain.

Burns JW, Bruehl S, Chung OY, Magid E, Chont M, Goodlad JK, Gilliam W, Matsuura J, Somar K
Pain. 2009 146 (3): 276-282

PMID: 19682793 · PMCID: PMC4180294 · DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2009.07.024

Evidence suggests that anger and pain are related, yet it is not clear by what mechanisms anger may influence pain. We have proposed that effects of anger states and traits on pain sensitivity are partly opioid mediated. In this study, we test the extent to which analgesic effects of acute anger arousal on subsequent pain sensitivity are opioid mediated by subjecting healthy participants to anger-induction and pain either under opioid blockade (oral naltrexone) or placebo. Participants were 160 healthy individuals. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects opioid blockade design is used, with participants assigned randomly to one of two drug conditions (placebo or naltrexone), and to one of two Task Orders (anger-induction followed by pain or vice versa). Results of ANOVAs show significant Drug Condition x Task Order interactions for sensory pain ratings (MPQ-Sensory) and angry and nervous affect during pain-induction, such that participants who underwent anger-induction prior to pain while under opioid blockade (naltrexone) reported more pain, and anger and nervousness than those who underwent the tasks in the same order, but did so on placebo. Results suggest that for people with intact opioid systems, acute anger arousal may trigger endogenous opioid release that reduces subsequent responsiveness to pain. Conversely, impaired endogenous opioid function, such as that found among some chronic pain patients, may leave certain people without optimal buffering from the otherwise hyperalgesic affects of anger arousal, and so may lead to greater pain and suffering following upsetting or angry events.

MeSH Terms (14)

Adult Anger Arousal Data Interpretation, Statistical Double-Blind Method Endorphins Executive Function Hand Strength Humans Male Naltrexone Narcotic Antagonists Pain Pain Measurement

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