Pressure on the Testicle Creates Bizarre Phenomenon of "Referred Pain"

Illustration for article titled Pressure on the Testicle Creates Bizarre Phenomenon of "Referred Pain"

In 1933, two doctors got together and decided to stack weights on one of their genitals. Precisely which one is never mentioned. What is mentioned is the little-known phenomenon as "referred pain."


We have, in the past, talked before about a little body quirk known as "referred itch." Sometimes, when you scratch or pinch one part of your body, you can feel an itch in a different part of your body. The body can turn up the heat on that sensation. You don't always get the privilege of feeling itch. Sometimes you feel pain. And in 1933, two doctors wanted to study that pain the surest way they knew how.

Herbert Woollard and Edward Carmichael noticed that when an internal organ was damaged, patients sometimes felt pain in relatively unconnected parts of their body. They decided to cause damage to their own internal organs, and study the effects. But what internal organs did they have that were both noncritical and easily damaged? Got it in one, gentlemen.

In their notes, Woollard and Carmichael recorded that "the testis was drawn forward" and placed between a pair of fingers and a pan that could hold weights. (They recorded neither whose testis nor whose fingers were involved.) Weights were added to the pan, and the resulting sensations were recorded. The pair performed the experiment multiple times, sometimes injecting various sections of the testicles with local anesthetic to numb the pain.

After sufficient experimentation, they concluded that testicular pain often came with generalized torso pain. If only one testicle was harmed, only one side of the torso would feel its effects. Was their bravery worth it? Doctors still note the "referred pain" that comes along with testicular trauma, so they helped advance medical knowledge, in their own way.

[Via Electrified Sheep, 15 of the Weirdest Science Experiments in History, Scrotal Pain.]



It goes even further than that. Studies have shown that, when a human male is sufficiently kicked forcefully in the testicles, men for about a 1 mile radius will double over with him; this is especially true is said other males witness the testicle-punting.

True fact.