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Woman Feels No Pain, Didn't Realize It Until Age 65

Jo Cameron has been through several operations and childbirth without painkillers
By Richard Kemeny,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2019 9:15 AM CDT
Jo Cameron doesn't need these.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – It sounds like something out of a superhero movie: There's a woman living in Scotland who feels no pain. In a case report on Jo Cameron in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, scientists say they discovered two genetic mutations at play (one on a previously unidentified gene) and that the 71-year-old may be experiencing other effects beyond the lack of pain. She's had broken bones with no painful reaction; when she burns herself she can be unaware it's happening until she smells her flesh singeing, per a press release. She's had dental work done and gone through childbirth without the need for pain relief. The BBC has video of Cameron eating the fiery Scotch bonnet chili pepper and smiling through the process.

But she's also an optimistic person who reports almost never panicking—including when a car accident two years ago left her vehicle upside-down on its roof, reports the Guardian; she experiences very little anxiety, is almost never afraid, and her wounds tend to heal quickly. "I didn't know anything strange was going on until I was 65," Cameron says. That's when doctors X-rayed her hip and found massive deterioration in the joint. They couldn't believe she wasn't in pain. At 66 she had a surgery on her hands that's described as "excruciating"; again, no discomfort. That's when she was sent to pain specialists in London. "We hope that with time, our findings might contribute to clinical research for post-operative pain and anxiety, and potentially chronic pain, PTSD, and wound healing," says study author Dr. James Cox. (Read more pain management stories.)

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