Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Redditors discuss the most painful thing you can experience - and the answer (shockingly) isn’t childbirth

most painful conditions.jpg

When Joey Tribbiani was bitching over his kidney stones while Phoebe was giving birth to triplets, little did we know he may have had reason to consider his passing of the tiny crystalline lumps as potentially as bad as having a human pushed out of your vagina.

Several lists over the years have detailed the most painful experiences known to humankind, whether comparing various ailments to childbirth or ranking the worst insect stings (by a scientist so devoted to the cause he was stung by each and every bug on the list).

And now a Reddit thread on the very subject has stirred the pot once again, throwing up all kinds of terrible experiences from people eager to share the worst physical pain they’ve ever endured, from agonising appendicitis:

To kidney stones:

To how it feels to be run over by a truck:

Of course, people have different thresholds (it’s possible women feel pain more acutely than men, but manage it better) and it could be argued that some pains are so different it’s like trying to compare eating a Twix with throwing a ball.

However before the pub debate rages, know there is actually, as The Independent flags up, an NHS page devoted to 20 health conditions known for causing particularly severe pain.

On the list are conditions many people are familiar with, such as migraines, stomach ulcers, heart attacks and broken bones.

But while the list isn’t in any particular order, it does say cluster headaches could well take the top spot pain-wise.

Read more: Endometriosis symptoms often “dismissed” by doctors

Cluster headaches “come on very suddenly without warning causing a sharp, stabbing pain around one eye. Attacks can be as short as 15 minutes or last three hours or more”.

The page states: “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 of cluster headaches.

“Cluster headaches are also called ‘suicide headaches’ because they’re so excruciatingly painful they’ve been known to drive people to take their own lives. They tend to “They’re acknowledged to be the most painful type of headache, worse even than severe migraines. In fact, experts have suggested that cluster headache may be the most painful condition known to medical science.”

Endometriosis also makes an appearance, an extremely painful condition in which cells usually found in the uterus grow elsewhere in the body, causing inflammation, pain and scar tissue. Symptoms include heavy and painful periods, painful sex, exhaustion and stomach and back pain.

The condition can lead to associated mental health problems, such as depression, and fertility issues, and though up to two million women are estimated to be affected by it in the UK, many report that their symptoms aren’t taken seriously.

The condition also came up in the Reddit thread, with one woman describing the pain as feeling like she was being stabbed “with a white hot serrated knife”. Another said: “This is the worst pain I have in how it affects my life. I've had migraines that have made me seriously consider suicide but endometriosis has ruined my life.”

Another condition on the list is shingles, described here as “one of the most painful medical conditions you can be unlucky enough to experience”.

“Caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, it’s characterised by a rash or crop of blisters on one side of your body, often around the waistline.

“The pain of shingles tends to be burning or tingling and often affects only one side of your body. It can be so bad that you experience an excruciating stab of pain when someone simply brushes lightly against the affected skin or a breeze wafts over it.”

Meanwhile, Joey’s kidney stones are said to a result in a “sudden, incredibly sharp, cramping pain in your lower back or the side of your abdomen, or occasionally in your groin, which may last for minutes or hours”, with many on the Reddit thread in agreement that it’s the one thing guaranteed to floor them.

Read more: Emma Willis pens heartfelt letter to NHS following life-saving surgery

A perhaps lesser-known condition in the top 20 is trigeminal neuralgia, an unpredictable pain “often described as feeling like an electric shock shooting through the face” or “intense sensations of burning or stabbing” that can be brought on by nothing more than a breeze.

The NHS page is due for update this month, so keep your fingers crossed – post-work-drinking-from-5pm-forgot-to-eat hangover could make an appearance.

FYI, the largest kidney stone ever removed from a person (surgically, you’ll be pleased to know) was 13cm wide.

Image: iStock


bad date.jpg

Thing you've had a bad first date? These people ended up in A&E

jacee delivers own baby brother.jpg

Bow down to the badass 12-year-old who delivered her own baby brother


We should talk about how endometriosis affect men, insists researcher



“Why it’s time to talk openly about race”

"I learnt that to get ahead in life, I should actively avoid talking about race."

by The Stylist web team
27 Jun 2017

The 15 craziest bridezilla demands, as told by their weary bridesmaids

Someone needs to give these bridesmaids a medal, ASAP

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jun 2017

The scientific reason we should keep having sex as we get older

A new study reveals an intriguing benefit of not letting sex slide.

by Moya Crockett
27 Jun 2017

We can’t believe this woman was sacked for not wearing a bra

‘I felt uncomfortable and objectified’

by Kayleigh Dray
27 Jun 2017

London's best pop-up bars for summer 2017

Sunset cocktail on the beach, anyone?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
26 Jun 2017

To the Bone director defends drama from claims it “triggers” anorexia

The first trailer for the Netflix drama has sparked controversy

by Elle Griffiths
26 Jun 2017

Bride asks bridesmaids to pay for her designer dress

Well, Marchesa ain't cheap...

by Anna Pollitt
26 Jun 2017

GirlBoss is latest show to fall victim to Netlflix's cancelling spree

The series has been culled after just one season

by Elle Griffiths
26 Jun 2017

Woman forced to leave pool over “inappropriate” swimming costume

Misogynists couldn’t handle her pink one-piece

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Jun 2017

Clueless nearly never got made because of Hollywood sexism

As Cher would say, as if

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Jun 2017