Researchers at the University of Minnesota carried out a series of studies which revealed those who counted money before taking part in an experiment where they were subjected to low levels of pain felt less discomfort than those who did not.
Its thought that fondling notes and coins helps ward off pain by boosting feelings of self-worth and self-sufficiency.
Previous studies have shown those with a greater sense of self-worth may be more likely to withstand pain.
Britain spends at least £500 million a year on over-the-counter painkilling pills and the figure is increasing every year.
But scientists remain baffled by why some people appear to feel pain more easily than others.
In the latest study, a group of students were asked to count out a wad of cash consisting of 80 one-hundred dollar bills, or just 80 slips of blank paper. They had been told researchers were simply testing their dexterity in handling the notes.
Each volunteer was then asked to dip their hands into a bowl of very hot water, to see how painful they found it and how long they could last.
The results, published in a recent edition of the journal Psychological Science, showed those who had handled money reported less pain and lasted longer.
The results support other studies highlighting how the brain can be tuned to ward off pain without the use of pills.
A University of Los Angeles team of scientists found just looking at a photograph of a loved one can also be a powerful form of pain relief.
They recommended anyone visiting hospital for painful tests or examinations should bring a picture to help them cope.
And patients who have had major surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement, can halve the amount of painkilling medicine they need simply by stroking a pet, according to tests at Loyola University in Chicago.
Source: The Telegraph [www.telegraph.co.uk]