10 Studies About Whether Twins Really Can Feel the Same Pain

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There have been many stories about twins feeling each other’s pain, but is there any truth to it? Twins and their parents relate tales of one twin feeling the pain of the other even when they’re miles apart. Skeptics are less inclined to believe anecdotal evidence and more likely to seek scientific proof. Scientists like to use twins to do research in a variety of areas because of their identical genetics, so have there been any studies to confirm this theory? Here are 10 studies about whether twins really can feel the same pain.

  1. Twins and Rheumatoid Arthritis – The University of Michigan did this study of rheumatoid arthritis in twins. There has been a long standing theory that RA can be hereditary, so studying genetically identical twins may answer this question. This study reveals that only 15% of identical twins will both develop this disease therefore most will not feel the same pain.
  2. Twins Study on Back Pain – There have been many studies done on twins and congenital back pain. This research done on 7000 pairs of twins from the Swedish Twin Registry shows that twins will indeed feel the same pain – in their back. Even if they live completely different lifestyles, twins often develop the same back problems.
  3. Twins Study on PTSD and CWP – This study about the genetic relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic widespread pain (CWP) was inconclusive. By studying twins with these disorders they found that there is a link but that it isn’t genetic. However, twins were 3.5 times more likely to feel the same pain of CWP.
  4. Twin Study on Fibromyalgia – A team of researchers from the Pain Clinic at Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland studied 12,502 like-sexed twins of the Finnish Twin Cohort for Fibromyalgia symptoms. This painful disease was found to be prevalent in both twins which suggests a genetic link.
  5. Influence of Genetics on IBS, GERD and Dyspepsia – The results of this study suggests that there is probably a genetic influence in the development of  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) but may not influence the development of dyspepsia. This indicates that twins are likely to both have the same type of stomach aches.
  6. Determinants of PPT in Adult Twins – The pain pressure threshold (PPT) of twins was analyzed in this study and found that environmental factors unique to each twin pair had a significant influence. Though twins are likely to feel the same pain if raised in similar environments, it’s less likely if they’re separated.
  7. Recent study at University of Birmingham – This study didn’t have anything to do with twins, but concludes that some people can feel physical pain simply by observing it happen to others. This means that if one twin sees the other being hurt they could possibly feel it themselves.
  8. MPD Syndrome in Twins – The Myofascial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (MPD) was investigated in 94 twin pairs to see if there was a genetic link. The findings show that twins with the same facial pain are likely because of similar environmental influences.
  9. Co-bedding as a Comfort Measure – This research is to determine whether twins who share the same incubator can handle pain and discomfort better than those who are kept apart. So this study is to find out if one twin can help the other to feel less pain.
  10. Research into Twins and Hereditary Disease – According to this article, twins often suffer from each other’s pain. A variety of studies are continually being performed on twins to determine if certain painful diseases are hereditary.

So what do all these studies say about twins feeling the same pain? The results seem to show that this is likely to happen, but for reasons other than something psychosomatic. Twins feeling the same pain is usually because they have inherited the same painful disorder. Though stories abound of twins feeling each other’s pain from an accident or illness, there have been very few scientific studies done to prove it.

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