By Catriona Harvey-Jenner
Nov 2, 2018
Sorry to state the obvious, but pain is never a pleasant thing. It’s hard to ignore, and chronic pain in particular can end up having a psychological impact, affecting a person’s mental health as well as their physical health.
It can be frustrating, when experiencing certain health conditions, to feel like others don’t comprehend just how much pain you’re in. But the NHS has compiled a list of the 20 most painful health conditions , which may reassure anyone who’s suffering from them that they are most certainly not exaggerating.
The 20 most painful health conditions (not ranked in order) are as follows:
A condition that’s known to take years to diagnose, endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the womb is found outside the womb. The most unpleasant symptoms include pelvic pain, period pain, and pain during and after sex. Lena Dunham is a famous face who suffers from endometriosis, and she recently had a hysterectomy as a result of complications arising from the condition.
2. Cluster headaches
This specific type of headache tends to occur on one side of the head, usually around the eye. The NHS deems the pain "very severe", which is probably why they’re sometimes referred to as ‘suicide headaches’. Cluster headaches usually occur in bouts of between 6 and twelve weeks.
3. Frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder occurs when the joint becomes so tight and stiff that it’s practically impossible to carry out basic movements like raising your arm. Common in people with diabetes, it’s known to last years.
4. Broken bones
While with very small fractures, you might be lucky enough not to feel much pain at all, sadly the same can’t be said for more extreme breaks, which can be excruciating. Broken bones can take a while to heal, but the older you are and the bigger the bone, the longer it’ll take.
Shingles , which often appears as a rash or a patch of blisters on one side of the body, causes a burning or tingling sensation as well as stabs of pain when being gently touched.
A condition which affects seven times as many women as men, fibromyalgia is a long-term illness that causes aches and pain all over the body. It is notoriously hard to diagnose, however, because the affected bones, joints, muscles and ligaments are generally intact, but are just dysfunctional and pain sensitive. Lady Gaga is a sufferer of fibromyalgia, and has spoken extensively about what it’s like to live with.
Migraines can often cause people to take time off work, due to the throbbing pain on one side of your head, as well as the nausea and sensitivity to light. Sufferers tend to deal with migraines by lying down in a dark, quiet place until it passes.
8. Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS is a severe, long-lasting pain that can arise after a broken bone, a burn or a cut. The pain, the NHS describes, is a "continuous and intense" burning pain that is often "completely disproportionate to the severity of the original injury."
9. Slipped disc
Back pain can be particularly prohibitive when it comes to movement, and a common reason for severe pain in that region is a slipped disc . This tends to occur as a result of a twisting or lifting injury and can cause subsequent secondary pain in the legs.
10. Heart attack
This one’s pretty serious, so it makes sense that the corresponding pain would put it on this list. A heart attack usually causes a pain in the centre of your chest that can feel like a heaviness, tightness or squeezing, and is often what causes victims to collapse. The pain is known to spread to the jaw, neck, back, arms or stomach in some people. In some, less common cases, sufferers of diabetes may experience a heart attack without actually feeling the pain, due to damaged nerve endings as a result of the condition.
Sciatica is an aching pain that runs down the leg, caused when the sciatic nerve (the longest one in the body) has been pinched or damaged by a back injury. Sciatica sufferers don’t generally experience much back centralised pain, instead feeling it in the lower back, the bum and into the legs, right down to the calf.
12. Sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease , which is particularly common in the UK in people from African or Caribbean descent, causes a ‘pain crisis’, located in the bones and joints. These episodes, which can strike as regularly as every few weeks in people who have the disease, can vary in severity and can last for up to a week at a time.
You’ll know when you’ve got appendicitis , which is when the tiny organ swells alongside the gut wall. The resulting pain usually starts in the centre of the stomach, before shifting to the lower-right side of the tummy where it intensifies.
14. Kidney stones
Kidney stones are painful, and what’s worse, they often need to be passed out in your urine (although depending on the size of the stone, there are other options). Until it has been passed, however, a kidney stone will cause sharp, cramping pains in the side of your abdomen or your lower back.
Usually a condition developed in older people, arthritis causes constant joint pain which can be debilitating for those who suffer from it.
16. Trigeminal neuralgia
This condition, also referred to as Fothergill’s disease , is the name given to sudden, severe, shooting facial pain. The attacks tend to last anywhere from a few seconds to around two minutes.17. Acute pancreatitisWhen the pancreas becomes permanently damaged as a result of inflammation and stops working properly, it’s known as acute pancreatitis . Sufferers will experience a dull aching abdominal pain which increases, especially after eating fatty foods.18. Gout Gout occurs when there are high levels of uric acid in the system, often as a result of eating certain, rich foods. The resulting pain emerges in the joints – usually the base of the big toe.19. Stomach ulcerA stomach ulcer is a sore or a hole that forms in the lining of the stomach, and it can cause a burning pain in the abdomen, usually between meals.20. Pain after surgeryIt’s natural for most operations to result in pain, although the location and intensity of it varies depending on the type of surgery. But the NHS reminds patients that "too much pain after surgery is not a good thing, and you should never feel you have to ‘tough it out’." Follow Cat on Instagram . Related Story Everything you need to know about CBD oil
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