Can Swearing Help With Pain Relief?

Placing a Band-Aid on a paper cut is helpful. And running your burned finger under cold water will likely soothe your scorching skin. But sometimes, dropping a solid f-bomb or a flurry of curse words can somehow make us feel better as well.

Think about the last time you stubbed your toe. Was your first reaction to yell "s***"? "People often swear when they are stressed, faced with a challenge, or are otherwise experiencing an increase in the activation of their sympathetic nervous system,"  Dr. Kyle Zrenchik, a couples and sex therapist and co-founder of All In Therapy, told Healthline. He added, "When people swear, they experience a release, either slight or significant, in physiological and psychological stress."

We're not demanding you unleash a barrage of expletives in your everyday life, but if you're suddenly dealing with a flash of pain, know that coloring your language with bleep words may actually help provide some pain relief.

The 'truly liberating effect' of swearing

"Swearing can have a truly liberating effect when we're feeling bottled up with frustration," Dr. Raffaello Antonino, a counseling psychologist and the clinical director and founder of Therapy Central, told Healthline. "Saying the F-word, or similar, can have an immediate calming impact on the difficult emotions we might be experiencing."

If you're worried your uncharacteristic bellowing of obscene words will be viewed as a sign of stupidity, don't stress. According to Forbes, scientists have proven that the use of curse words is actually a marker of intelligence and a more expansive vocabulary. And if you swear under times of stress or pain, it is a natural reaction that can act as a quick relief to the rush of pain that occurs with an injury. If cursing comes naturally in a stressful or painful situation, go ahead and let out all the obscene words you can think of. At least until you can take an aspirin.