Pain and Blood Pressure

Thomas G. Pickering, MD, DPhil

In This Article


Although this area of research has so far made no impact on the everyday practice of medicine, it has some very interesting implications regarding lifestyle behavior patterns. It seems clear that a transient increase of blood pressure can have a pain-relieving and possibly stress-relieving effect due to increased endorphin release. It has even been suggested that one way smoking may relieve stress is through stimulation of the baroreceptors resulting from the nicotine-induced blood pressure surge.[24] Chronic stress and chronic pain lead to reduced endorphin levels and a paradoxical increase of pain sensitivity.[25] One stimulus that leads to increased endorphin release is exercise,[26] and it may be that this is yet another reason why we should encourage arthritic patients not to give up on regular exercise.


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