Most Painful Condition?

Any ideas on what the most painful condition is? In terms of intensity duration - not that there is any scale.

I’ll kick off with two that I know from personal experience rank up there

  • Full blown gout in the knee - requires opiate painkillers; lasts in acute phase for several days; and it’s impossible to walk for much of that due to the pain.

  • Costochondritis - acute pain in chest, often confused with a heart-attack. Lasts several days and makes breathing very difficult and rolling over in bed impossible. Requires opiates that don’t do much good.

Intense intractable migraine.

Strangury – extreme difficulty in urination – is reputed to be remarkably unpleasant.

Kidney stones have laid low several doughty and stalwart men of my acquaintance. Take a man who has withstood being ripped up by barbed wire…yet watch him whimper in misery under a kidney stone…it’s got to be pretty hellish.

Are burns a condition? Burns can be so bad that it’s better to render a patient unconcious than to have them awake while the burns heal.

I can imagine any all-over skin, nerve or muscle condition that causes pain would be absolutely hellish.

I’ve heard that Trigeminal Neuralgia is right up there.

I am recovering from a lower back problem (L3/4) where the pain was referred to my knee. It was exquisitely painful - I had one bout where I thought i might pass out (I broke into a cold sweat and started to “white out”). It was among the most painful experiences in my life.

That’s what I have. I’m inclined to agree. In some ways, it’s basically ruined my life.

But then I read about burns and I think, no way. Burns are 1000x worse, I’m sure.

Cluster headache wiki article says “the disease may be the most painful condition known to medical science.”

I saw a book once that described a pain scale, with pain measured in units called the dol (short for dolor). You can google it, but several sites I just looked at mention that it never caught on.

That book had a chart showing a dol scale from 1 to about 15, with various kinds of injuries marked on it. Most typical painful things were in the range from 1 to 6 or so. Then there was a gap up to about 10 or 12 or so – then several really nasty stuff.

The items way up there, that I recall, were:
[ul][li] Heart attack[/li][li] Sting of stingray[/li][li] Major burns[/ul][/li]
Given that these were above 10, where nothing much else went past 6, one must gather that these are really seriously nasty unpleasant shit. From certain remarks frequently mentioned right here on this board, kidney stones (and perhaps also gall stones) must be way up there too.

One woman told me that physical therapy after a third-degree burn was the most painful thing she had ever experienced - and it was for a single joint. She was also a mother of two, and she said, “I would rather have 20 babies in a row than go through that again.”

There are several medical conditions for which pain control is a priority nursing intervention, many have been mentioned above (kidney stones, tic doloreaux (trigeminal neuralgia) heart attack, for example.) I’d like to add pancreatitis, degenerative disc disease, and neuropathy.

Strange to see heart attack on that list.
I’ve read a number of descriptions of what it’s like, ranging from “it just felt like a bad case of indigestion” up to an intense pain, but none of the descriptions have dwelt on the pain, which I’d expect if it was one of the most painful things you could experience.
Perhaps they meant in the most severe cases, but that just illustrates one of the problems with trying to put conditions on a pain scale.

On the stingray thing, I’ve also heard that being scratched by the claws of a duck-billed platypus is also up there…though that may partly be due to it being resistant to many of the common pain-relieving drugs.

But yeah burns, cluster headache, some flavours of migraine…these are often put at the very top.

I’ve heard kidney stones and sickle cell anemia(sickling events or crisis) are way up there.

Most painful thing I’ve personally experienced? Pleurisy during pneumonia, imagine with every single breathe you take your lungs are being ripped loose from your chest cavity, I was taking shallow breathes and had belts tied around my chest to try and stop the worst.

Stonefish stings are supposed to be really bad, too. I’ve seen stonefish up close and personal but thankfully never been stung by one, which mostly happens when you step on them. Stonefish stings can be fatal. Jellyfish stings are extremely painful at the instance of being stung, followed by a fairly long period (3-4 days for me) of mid-level pain and discomfort. Jellyfish stings vary quite a bit. I’ve only been stung once and the instant I got stung was pure pain, but the worst of it was over right then.

Last year I was stung spearfishing lionfish and holy shit, I do not recommend getting stung by a lionfish. Common wisdom about lionfish stings is that they won’t kill you, but you’ll wish you were dead. The initial sting was painful, but the pain increased for about two hours before slowly subsiding. It was brutal. Probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I got it on the ball of my palm (two spines) and had active pain for about a day and dull pain for about three. I could feel it for at least a week after that. Stonefish stings are supposedly much worse. I can’t even imagine.

Two things I’ve experienced:

A 10-day migraine.

A Mis-diagnosed ruptured appendix (the ER sent me home, rather than to surgery).

I’m currently experiencing diabetic neuropathy in hands and feet. If it gets any worse, it’ll be #3 on my list. But I can see how serious burns would trump everything else.

I agree. Last year I suffered with increasingly frequent bouts of unstable angina and a “small heart attack”. I kept chugging Mylanta, thinking that I had developed GERD. I had always though heart attacks were horrible, unrelenting pain then falling over dead. I had horrible pain, but each time it resolved I took that as evidence it wasn’t my heart.

Actual serious burns kill the nerves. It’s the not so serious burns that are the problem.

Admitted there are problems with adjacent skin to serious burns that still have nerve function, but from what little experience I have of lowish grade burns the pain is not really intense for long periods.

Burns don’t particularly feature in the 10-scale charts of pain.

Separate topic. I know a lady who has gout and also has given natural birth. Her experience is that gout is much more painful than childbirth.

I had a snapped off wrist bone and a third degree burn on my foot.

I’d rather break my wrist one hundred times more before burning my foot again.

I have trigeminal neuralgia, but avoiding triggers is perfectly possible for me so it is not that bad in my case. If episodes came on unavoidably or lasted a long time I’d definitely check out ASAP, as the sensation is not endurable.

Box jellyfish sting. I was stung on the forearm and on the side of the abdomen by one that had been dead for a while (based on the scarring, the total area affected was about ten square inches.) I screamed at the top of my lungs for an hour and a half until I reached the hospital, and only stopped then because my heart had stopped. I was only ten years old, but I had dislocated both shoulders a few months earlier so I had a pretty good idea of where it fell on the pain scale. I’ve also been burned by cigarettes, soldering irons, steam, cooktops and such and I would rather be burned a hundred times than stung again.

You’ve led a rough life, RNATB. :frowning: