Threshold of pain

Threshold of pain

The threshold of pain is the point at which pain begins to be felt. It is an entirely subjective phenomenon. The intensity at which a stimulus (e.g., heat, pressure) begins to evoke pain is the threshold intensity.[1] So, if a hotplate on a person's skin begins to hurt at 42°C (107°F), then that is the pain threshold temperature for that bit of skin at that time. 42°C is not the pain threshold, it is the temperature at which the pain threshold was crossed.

The intensity at which a stimulus begins to evoke pain varies from individual to individual and for a given individual over time.

In hearing

The pressure at which sound becomes painful for a listener is the pain threshold pressure for that person at that time. The threshold pressure for sound varies only slightly with frequency and can be age-dependent.[2] Additionally, people who have been exposed to more noise/music usually have a higher threshold pressure.[3] Threshold shift can also cause threshold pressure to vary.[4] Prolonged exposure to sound at levels evoking pain can cause physical damage, potentially leading to hearing impairment.

The volume in acoustics refers to loudness. It is a common term for the amplitude of sound, the sound pressure level or the sound pressure. Different values for pain threshold pressure level and pain threshold pressure are found in the literature:[2][4]

Threshold of Pain
Sound pressure level Sound pressure
120 dBSPL 20 Pa
130 dBSPL 63 Pa
134 dBSPL 100 Pa
137.5 dBSPL 150 Pa
140 dBSPL 200 Pa

See also


  1. ^ "IASP Pain Terminology". International Association for the Study of Pain. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Nave, Carl R. (2006). "Threshold of Pain". HyperPhysics. SciLinks. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  3. ^ Truax, Barry (1999). Handbook for Acoustic Ecology (2 ed.). ARC Publications, World Soundscape Project, Simon Fraser University. 
  4. ^ a b Franks, John R.; Stephenson, Mark R.; Merry, Carol J., eds (June 1996). Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss - A Practical Guide. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. pp. 88. Retrieved 2009-07-15 

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