Sensitivity to pain describes both too much and too little pain sensation, compared with most people. If we feel pain very easily then we are hypersensitive and if we barely feel pain then we are hyposensitive.

Pain sensitivity isn’t exclusive to neurodivergent people but it is very common for us. To complicate matters, some forms of touch can give us great pain whilst others we just don’t register at all; pain and touch sensitivity are very closely connected. Click here → to read more about the signs of touch sensitivity.

Signs of pain sensitivity may include some of these, all of these, and are not limited to the following:

Hypersensitive examples

  • Shock, distress and pain at something as simple as having a plaster removed, plucking hair, having a jab. All of these feel like over reactions when we see that others treat them as insignificant. But the pain and shock is real.
  • Falling over and hurting our knee, arm, elbow and being inconsolable – with signs of meltdown. The shock to our system is intolerable.

Hyposensitive examples

  • Unexplained bruising where we simply haven’t registered that we’ve collided with a wall or literally anything, because we haven’t felt the pain – hyposensitivity.
  • Stepping into a very hot bath and feeling pleasure or relief with no discomfort, despite the horror of other family members at our tolerance to such a temperature!
  • Putting out a candle with our fingertips without pain registering, or burning ourselves and only realising we have because we see the blister forming.
  • Intentionally cutting or otherwise harming ourselves as a way of experiencing physical sensation (I’m not in any way condoning this as healthy behaviour – I’m simply stating it as a fact that some of us find relief in it, for a plethora of reasons).

To finish, here is a personal example of my hyposensitivity to pain: my tolerance of pain is so great that I was clearly in the advanced stages of labour with my daughters before I even realised I was in labour (waters breaking was the undeniable clue in the end!). I was in hospital for less than an hour each time – before my beautiful children were born – one was almost born in the car park. Bit of a shock to the system for all concerned – a bit of warning would have been nice!

Please click here → to return to the main hypersensitivity page or here → for hyposensitivity.