It's hard to tell what Brazilian footballer Neymar is saying here, but a new study has found that cursing can alleviate pain. AFP

It's always felt therapeutic to yell out a curse when you've accidentally bashed your thumb with a hammer or crashed into something. Now scientists have claimed a hell-raising, four-letter cry is the best form of pain relief.

Though older people may frown upon the use of coarse language, swearing can actually raise your tolerance to periods of agony.

A study in which – foolhardy – volunteers allowed themselves to undergo pain found that those who fell back on impolite language could withstand discomfort for twice as long as those who chose to grin and bear it.

The researchers from the universities of Keele and Central Lancashire assessed people from Britain and Japan, where cursing in public is frowned upon much more than in the UK.

All of the participants were told to put their 'non-dominant' hand in icy water, the Mail on Sunday reported.

One half were told to "repeatedly" curse, either in Japanese or English, while the others use more polite language.

The British cursers were able to keep their hands in the water for 78.8 seconds compared to those who didn't at 45.7. The Japanese, meanwhile, had a far lower tolerance. Those who swore kept their hand in for 55.6 seconds, while those who didn't lasted for 25.4 seconds.

It is understood that swearing provokes an emotional response leading to what is described as a "stress-induced analgesia", also known as the "fight or flight" response, along with a surge of adrenaline.

Reporting in the imaginatively-titled Scandinavian Journal of Pain, the researchers said: "Individuals from both Japanese and British cultures were more tolerant of the painful stimulus when swearing - this was not expected.

"Swearing could be encouraged as an intervention to help people cope with acute painful stimuli."

In line with this foul mouthed news we have put together a list of interesting swearing facts ...

  • The movie with the most swear words ever - Summer of Sam (1999)

Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 uses the word 'f**k' a total of 435 times throughout the film.

  • We swear a lot

According to analysis of spoken conversations, approximately 80-90 spoken words each day - 0.5% to 0.7% of all words - are swear words, with usage varying from between 0% to 3.4%. In comparison, first-person plural pronouns (we, us, our) make up 1% of spoken words.

  • The first person to swear on British national television - Kenneth Tynan (1965)

Critic and author Kenneth Tynan sparked outrage when he became the first person to say the F-word on British television.