Hypersensitivity to pain

What is hypersensitivity to pain?
SIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION

Pain hypersensitivity is when an individual feels pain more strongly than other people. The person will be very sensitive to minor injuries like pricks or splinters. But the person isn't faking the pain. It's real, and there's no point in telling them to stop exaggerating. Autistic people have hyper- or hypo-sensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is pain hypersensitivity?

Pain hypersensitivity is when the pain signal is amplified. Some injuries or minor ailments can be felt very intensely and pose a real challenge. It’s not a question of willpower or maturity. The pain felt is real.

For some autistic people, it’s difficult to understand what’s happening when the pain signal is perceived. This can lead to reactions that seem exaggerated.

Examples of usually minor pains that affect many autistic people

Tip

It can be useful to give yourself a minute before assessing the severity of pain. For example, in the event of a fall, while everyone might be in a hurry to find out if the person is hurt, it's a good idea to first wait a little while to see if the pain signal will diminish.

Consequences of pain hypersensitivity

It is not very socially acceptable to have difficulty managing pain, especially as an adult. As a result, the person may feel judged or invalidated. This can have many negative consequences.

Important

It's imperative to remember that the person is neither a liar nor immature in their pain management.

To find out more

Research suggests that autistic people have differences in the neurotransmitter systems that regulate pain, which may result in an amplified response to pain. However, research findings are still uncertain.

Valérie Jessica Laporte

WRITER SPECIALIZING IN AUTISM (FRENCH)