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Scientists Say To Watch Injections To Ease Pain

Those with needle phobias that worry about the pain of an injection are being encouraged to fight the urge to look away, instead watching as the needle plunges into their skin.

New research has lead scientists to believe that watching the injection will actually lessen how painful it feels. 

A team from the University College London (UCL) and University of Milan-Biocca applied a heat probe to the hands of 18 volunteers. They found that those who could see their hand in a mirror were able to withstand higher temperatures than those who were unable to, because the image was obscured with a block of wood.

The study also found that if the hand was magnified in a convex mirror, it cut the level of pain further. When participants looked at their hands, they could tolerate 3c more heat than when they didn't.

Co-author of the study, Professor Patrick Haggard from UCL, was cited in the Daily Mail as telling the BBC: "Our interest has been in the relationship between the experience of pain and the representation that your brain makes of your own body."

"We've shown there is an interesting interaction between the brain's visual networks and the brain's pain networks."

"My advice would be to look at your arm, but try to avoid seeing the needle- if that's possible," he added. The advice is likely to be welcomed by those with a phobia of the pain associated with needles, but those who are unconvinced by Prof Haggard's advice should consider using clinical hypnotherapy to beet their fear.

Hypnotherapy treatment is usually combined with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and works by getting to the root of the fear, and retraining the clients unconscious mind to help the client cope when faced with their phobia.