So you mentioned that you have a high pain threshold. That’s great, you are obviously aware of your personal pain experiences. Let’s explore these a bit more. Pain threshold is the moment when you realise you are in pain from something that becomes too hot, too stretchy, too cold or too much pressure. But what is really interesting is that a pain threshold changes all the time even in controlled experiments. Pain threshold relies on everything else happening at that time, not just the stimulus. For example males are known to have higher pain thresholds in experiments if run by females. Your pain threshold will change too, depending on your situation at the time, for example how happy or sad you are.
Now pain tolerance is different. This is the moment when you say ‘that’s enough’, ‘stop the test’ or ‘take the pressure off’. This may occur from a mix of the intensity of the stimulus and how long you’ve been in pain. Pain tolerance also varies depending on what else is happening at the time. Sometimes people mix pain threshold up with pain tolerance.
The term pain threshold comes up frequently in clinical situations and people may be proud of their high pain threshold. Most people misconstrue pain threshold for pain tolerance. This offers an entry into discussion about the difference between the two and in particular the power and place of context.