The NHS has revealed a list of 20 of the most painful conditions a person can experience.
Labour and birth aside (as these aren’t strictly conditions, after all), the list explains the excruciating sensations caused by each of the illnesses, and whilst they’re ranked in no particular order, they all sound truly horrendous in their own way.
From migraines to broken bones, here are the 20 conditions that the NHS refers to as inflicting ‘notoriously severe pain’.
2. Cluster headaches
Cluster headaches are acknowledged to be the most painful kind of headache possible, even more so than migraines. ‘Imagine giving birth without painkillers once or twice a day for up to 10 weeks at a time and you have some idea of the sheer misery,’ the NHS explains. They’ve even been referred to as ‘suicide headaches’, as some sufferers have been known to take their own lives.
However, migraines do still make the list of most painful conditions, causing debilitating pain, vomiting and sensitivity to light as well the obvious throb in your head.
4. Frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder is where the shoulder becomes extremely tight and stiff, to the point where it’s difficult to move or use your arm at all. The joint pain can last for several years, although prescription painkillers and exercises can help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
5. Broken bones
This one is fairly self explanatory – anyone who has ever broken a bone will be able to account for the severe pain you experience during both the initial break and the healing process.
Cancer touches so many lives, and many of us have first-hand experience of the pain it can cause either ourselves or a loved one. According to the NHS, most people with advanced cancer experience pain, either from the tumours themselves or as a side effect of cancer treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation.
7. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS is a pain that occurs after an injury to bone and soft tissue, and is most common in women in their 40s and 50s. The pain of the condition often far outweighs the pain of the original cause, and can go on for many years.
8. Heart attack
The pain of a heart attack can sometimes be mistaken for bad indigestion, but this doesn’t make it any less sore or serious. It typically starts as a pain in the centre of your chest, causing tightness and squeezing that can cause the individual to collapse.
9. Slipped disc
Back pain is a fairly common complaint, but a slipped disc, where one of the discs in the spine ruptures and the gel inside leaks out, is one of the most extreme causes, and can cause pain in other areas, such as the legs, as well.
Joint pain condition arthritis is ongoing, which is difficult for sufferers who know that their pain will be long term. However, according to Arthritis Care, exercise is one of the best ways to keep pain at bay, no matter what kind of arthritis you’re experiencing.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body – so you can only imagine the kind of pain that occurs when it’s pinched or irritated by damage to the back.
Appendicitis, which refers to the painful swelling of the appendix, is most common in children. The solution is emergency surgery to remove the organ as soon as possible, before it bursts.
13. Kidney stones
Kidney stones are often cited by men as one of the only things more painful than childbirth that they’re able to experience, although they can occur in both males and females. Passing a kidney stone with your urine causes extreme, sharp cramping, although this does subside when the stone comes out.
14. Trigeminal neuralgia
‘The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is often described as feeling like an electric shock shooting through the face,’ the NHS details. The condition, also known as Fothergill’s disease, causes extreme attacks of pain on one side of the face; attacks which are unpredictable and cause unbearable burning, stabbing sensations.
Apparently gout, a form of arthritis, occurring as a result of decadent living is actually a myth! Whilst it is more common in people who eat a lot of red meat and drink beer, it can occur in anyone, and cause joints to become red, hot, swollen and extremely painful.
Pancreatitis is where the pancreas, which forms part of your digestive system, becomes inflamed, causing ‘awful’ abdominal pain. It can occur as a one off or be ongoing, but often ends up requiring emergency surgery.
1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, which occurs when cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. The pain in the pelvic and surrounding areas that occurs as a result of the condition can be intense and ongoing, and as of yet, a cure has not been found, although symptoms can be managed with certain treatments.
People who have fibromyalgia can experience widespread aches and pains all over their body, but the cause of their condition is still unknown. It’s a lifelong condition, but painkillers and exercise can help.
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19. Stomach ulcer
When you consider that an ulcer is essentially a sore or hole in the lining of your stomach, it’s unsurprising that it makes the list. The NHS refers to the sensation as a ‘a gnawing or burning pain in the abdomen’.
20. Pain after an operation
Surgery is rarely an easy thing to go through, but you shouldn’t have such intense pain that it’s unbearable. The NHS recommends seeking advice and effective painkillers if you need them, rather than feeling like you have to ‘tough it out’.