A unique study conducted in June has explored for the first time the analgesic impacts of Touch between people in Love. Research showed a definite synchronisation occurred between two lovers empathising with each other resulting in reduced levels of pain experienced by any one of them. The analgesic impacts of touch scientifically termed as interpersonal synchronisation could well pave the way for science to prove how touch can ease pain.

The incredible Study was published in the journal Scientific Reports and written by lead researcher Pavel Goldstein, a post doctoral pain researcher in the cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder in collaboration with co-authors Professor Simone Shamay-Tsoory from the University of Haifa and his assistant Professor Irit Weissman-Fogel.

It is the first of its kind to explore the analgesic impacts of touch and was published in the journal Scientific Reports in June this year.

An increase in empathy increased the level of analgesic impacts of touch

Doctor Goldstein found that with an increase in empathy, the level of analgesic impact increased. This has also proved the benefits of a loving husband holding the hand of his wife in labour or during a delivery. It could also impact the pain of a woman suffering from disease where there was a definite synchronisation between the heart and respiratory rates of the two. This resulted in dissipation of pain.

The incredible study involved 22 long term heterosexual couples aged between 22 to 32.

They were made to undergo a simulated atmosphere of the delivery room scenario where men were observers and women the target of pain.

In a similar result obtained from earlier studies, the research observed how couples were synced to each other physiologically in varying degrees by just sitting together. However the synchronisation was broken when the female subjected to pain and the man was not allowed to touch her.

As soon as the male was allowed to hold the female's hand, the sync resumed and pain decreased. Goldstein observed that pain severed the interpersonal synchronisation which was retrieved again by touch.

The level of empathy a man showed for his wife also impacted the the level of the reduction of pain. Goldstein himself experienced the same effect when witnessing the birth of his daughter and it was then that he hit upon the idea for the study of the analgesic impacts of touch.

Earlier studies have revealed that when partners sing together or watch an emotional movie together, there is a definite synchronisation of their heartbeats and respiratory rhythms. The same effects happen when romantic couples spend time in each other's presence.

A positive step towards achieving non-opioid means of pain relief

Further research needs to be conducted to find out exactly how a partner's touch can relieve the pain of another. Goldstein is of the opinion it is because of the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain associated with the perception of pain, empathy, heart and respiratory function. He also plans to present a future study involving data acquired from studying brainwave activity of the partners.

For now, however, the study of the analgesic impacts of touch is a promising step in the right direction of helping healthcare achieve non-opioid means of pain relief. If the simple idea that love and empathy has healing powers, then husbands would do well to ensure their presence in the delivery room and hold their partner's hands.