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When did shots become a pinch?

Now before health care folks stick a needle in you, they say, “You’ll feel a little pinch.” That’s a pretty accurate description, and especially helpful since the action that causes it doesn’t seem to be much like a pinch at all.

But, it wasn’t always a pinch. When I was a kid, they’d say something like, “This may hurt a little,” but they didn’t try to reframe the puncture as a pinch. I wonder how and when this recategorization of sensation occurred… [Tags: ]

5 Responses to “When did shots become a pinch?”

  1. My (pediatric) ophthalmologist always say “this will be cold” when putting drops in my eyes. I asked him about it. He uses “cold” because it is specific and children who have a specific idea of what to expect aren’t as frightened of a new experience. Hence, “a little pinch”, which is more specific than “hurt a little”, is more reassuring. I can’t date the change exactly but my mom (nurse) guesses about 1980 or 1985 was when she first heard it.

  2. Don’t they always say “You may feel a little prick”? or maybe that’s just me :P

  3. Our dog screams blue murder when we try to clip its nails.

    I presume that children have a similarly instinctive aversion to the penetration of their skin, whereas pain is tolerable as long it is merely due to impact – preserving the body’s integrity.

    I would have thought the best conditioning would be to give the patient an attractive but very spiky object to play with, i.e. letting the brain get used to the idea of the sensation of a puncture wound to reduce the shock (and psychological pain).

    However saying it’ll feel like a pinch may be a carefully researched ploy. They may have discovered that the intense confusion (or sense of betrayal) caused by the conflict of expecting a pinch but receiving a prick may be enough to take the patient’s mind off the fact that some bastard has just poked a vicious needle an inch into their arm. “But, that wasn’t a pinch!… ouc.. Oh, you’ve pulled it out already. Hmmm, well, don’t do it again.”

  4. I was getting an implant done at NYU. The student dentist who BTW was quite talented, put the syringe together out of sight and then proceeded to tell me:

    “You know how they say this is only going to hurt a little? Well, this one is going to hurt a lot.”

    Then the bastard went and gave me the shot. I could have killed him. He was right but who wanted to know ahead of time?

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