Three difference institutes have come to the same conclusion - hold hands or empathize with a loved one when are in pain and it will have a pain relieving effect.
The more your brains sync, the greater the effect.
22 couples (minimum 1 year together) were wired up to EEG (electro encephalography) to measure brain signals whilst sitting together but not touching, or whilst sitting in separate rooms. Even being together started the brains synching and hand holding increased it.
However if one partner was in pain and they didn’t touch, the brain synching reduced, as did heart synchronisation and breathing.
It appears pain interrupts interpersonal synchronisation between couples, and touch brings it back. Another thing that reduced pain was the degree of empathy felt by the pain free partner. More empathy equated to better pain relief.
Researchers admitted they didn’t understand why or whether similar results were achievable with people who were not a couple.
This research brings up all kinds of questions for those who have suffered with long term pain and how it may have affected their intimate relationships. If pain interrupts the connection between couples, that is going to impact on so many part of their lives. And touch appears to be the solution. So if your partner is in pain, touch them gently and empathize. You may be able to do so much more than you think.
Reference: ProcNatlAcadSciUSA, 2018; 115: 2528-2537