Why does pinching a tiny part of your body hurt a lot more than pinching a very large part of your body?


If you pinch a tiny bit of your body, it hurts really badly, but when you pinch a very large area, it hurts much less. Why?

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When you pinch a small area of skin you are able to apply the same amount of force to the smaller region and cause greater distortion to the skin resulting in pain.

When you pinch a larger area, with the same amount of force as the smaller area there is less trauma to the skin because more skin is being impacted. The larger swath of skin doesn’t have to bend/fold as much and the result is less trauma to the skin.

This same concept applies to our idea of sharp a knife has a very narrow edge when compared to a spoon. The metal at the edge of a spoon is about 50-100 greater in width than the edge of a knife. When you apply force to the handle the knife cuts but the spoon scoops.

Both of these are force applied to area.

There’s this thing called lateral inhibition that happens in the spinal cord. Basically, if an intense signal from only one neuron comes through, it goes on to the brain uninterrupted. But if an intense signal from multiple neurons comes through, when they meet up in the spinal cord they all tell each other to chill our before heading to the brain.