Why do tiny little cuts hurt like an SOB while larger ones sometimes don't?

So in my going on 6 decades on this ball of dirt I’ve received multiple gouges, cuts, and even been stabbed a couple of times (no lie!!!).

Today I got a tiny little cut on my finger from a shard of glass and it hurt like a sonovabitch!!!:mad:

Which reminded me that of the times I got stabbed I felt almost nothing…EVER! Not even when it was healing.

So why do paper cuts and other tiny injuries sting but bigger ones don’t?

My guess is the body doesn’t send an endorphin rush to the little ones.

This has to be a better theory than the shrug I got from the butthole doctors I asked the couple of times I was more severely injured.

Why did you go to a proctologist for a stab wound? …

Do you really want the details, do you? :p:D:eek:

Million to one shot Doc

just kidding!:wink:
No, really!

A WAG but when you get a relatively serious injury your body shuts down pain receptors in the injured area so you won’t be incapacitated and eaten by the sabre-toothed tiger that just bit your leg.

But a paper cut is too minor an injury to evoke this shutdown so you get to experience it in full.

Right, also, sometimes in deeper cuts you have severed a nerve. There’s also shock.

Some prior work on this question.

Thread by soccaplaya, from Aug. 2002. Lots of speculations why. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=128710

Thread by alice_in_wonderland, also Aug. 2002. Got paper cut on eyeball! http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=131656

Thread by nongoog from Feb. 2007. How many paper cuts would you tolerate if you got paid $100 for each? http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=410138

Thread by Kn*ckers from Oct. 2002. God DAMN paper cuts! http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=141154 See post #15 by DAVEW0071 for some speculation why they hurt so much. Also mentions yet another paper cut on the eyeball (post #20) and mentions an earlier GQ discussion (but no link to it) in which Quadgop [sic] the Mercotan discusses (post #21).

I wonder if pain above a certain threshold causes the body to put out endorphins that it doesn’t below that threshold. It would be something like having an air conditioner that only comes on above 80 degrees, but then cools down to 75 degrees. It’s going to feel hotter on a 79 degree day than an 85 degree one.

I don’t have any answer. I’m just posting to say that I would average a paper cut about every year or so. But for some reason last week I got two in one day on one hand.

Damn, but being a lawyer is a dangerous, rugged, Real Man’s[sup]TM[/sup] profession.

Is there any proof BIG paper cuts don’t hurt?

The areas that tend to get papercuts are fingers and hands…which is where we have an awful lot of nerve endings packed into a small area.

Similarly, superficial burns often hurt like a motherfuck when deeper, more severe burns don’t, simply because they’ve destroyed the nerve endings.


Tiny cuts on hands = hurt a lot
Tiny cuts elsewhere = not so much
Large cuts elsewhere = not so much
Large cuts on hands = hurt a lot, but we expect that, because we perceive a large cut to the hand as a serious injury.