Pain Concern
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Distraction pain

Does anyone else do this? Ive hAd chronic pain for as long as I can remember, which has gotten increasingly worse for the last 2 years or so. I also bite my fingers. Not my nails, but the skin around them. They are bloody, raw, look horrible, and really sting whenever I have to do something. But I can't stop! and I'm wondering if it's linked to my pain, and acting as a sort of 'distraction pain'. Or am i just crazy?! anyone else do anything like this?

7 Replies

It is possible that subconsciously you are doing this to distract your chronic pain. Why don't you wear a glove to protect your finger from being bitten. By biting did you experience less chronic pain?

When I had my other symptom bothering me, I feel less pain in my back which is chronic. I had to deal with urinary problems and less pain was felt in the back.


yes, and it's probably also an anxiety thing. You can get some nail biting solution from chemist which will not necessarily stop you, but act as a reminder not to bite. BUT, find a substitute 'release' stimulus that won't cause as much grief as raw fingers. Squeeze balls? rubber band on wrist for twanging?

Plastic gloves with baby lotion in the tips should help soften and repair the damage and once you get hands back to normal, use nail varnish etc to prove to yourself how you want them to be.

Watch out for when you feel the need to nibble; is it when you are in front of tv and can feel pain in background? Is it during tense times in daily living?

It may be that you could talk to someone about this though, perhaps a councellor?

You're not crazy, you just need a release! xx

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Distraction is certainly a valuable part of pain control. I have a squash ball in my jacket pocket. I frequently use this to both squeeze and generally fiddle with like a single worry-bead. Rib

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Yes i do the same thing its funny how the most simple solutions work the best. But it does help to Release Stress and give you something to do and Distract you.I used to have Bad Habits and the Stress Ball really helps me and others as well to stop our own individual idiosyncrasy's and habits that can be very hard to break. Best Wishes Poohbear'


You have asked a question that has not got a simple answer.

You need to start investigating yourself. Starting with what is happening just before I start biting my fingers. There are acupuncture points in the fingers and you may be instinctively trying to make use of this.

There are various theories on how acupuncture works ranging from endorphin release to stimulating spinal reflexes of various sorts. You can do your own research on this.

You could be engaging in doing a feedback exercise with the jaws which release tight muscles elsewhere in the body.

You may have hit a solution for a particular problem in the past and you have made the solution into a habit which is difficult to stop because you have engaged the habit before you have realised you are doing so.

I can think of a few more reasons for this behaviour which is related to releasing of tight muscles.

The question starts with what is happening just before you bite your fingers?

Look forward to an answer so one can work towards possible solutions.


I bite the skin too. It looks awful. I get in the habit, can't stop, then make a real effort to stop, they all heal over. Then I start up again. I'm more likely to start when the pain is bad, or when stressed. But once it becomes a habit it's not related to pain or stress for me. Nail varnish helps because you notice it & it reminds you not to do it.


Thanks for replies everyone.

The acupuncture idea is an interesting one. My chiro does acupuncture on me, and i revealed to her the other day that when my neck pain gets bad I fantasise about sticking something into the back of my neck as i feel as though that would help (obviously i wouldnt - don't report me to the samaritans or anything!) but she said that that;s probably how acupuncture originated - people feeling the need for 'release' and experimenting.

It's a vicious circle isn't it, rowantree. My fingertips are scarring now and it's starting to wake me up in the night when the skin tightens up and starts itching. Have tried bitter bite-stopping stuff but it doesn't work :-( I honestly think i'm just trying to find something to distract me from my neck pain. Have joked to my boyfriend that he needs to propose so that i've got an excuse for making my hands look good !


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