Some of the Most Painful Things That Can Happen to the Human Body

4 serious and 4 not-so-serious incidents that cause extreme pain to the human body.

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

The body we own and represent is precious. As human beings, we do not want to permanently or even temporarily damage our physical appearance or state of mind. However, as careful as one might be, some situations are unavoidable and can cause us pain and upset.

All individuals have higher pain thresholds than others. You can give me a little cat scratch and I’ll be in tears, but if the same were to happen to my mother then she wouldn’t even notice. Different pain thresholds can stem from factors such as; past experience with pain, sex, genetics, age, and pain expectations. But just how high can the human pain threshold go?

Scientists and doctors use a number of pain intensity scales to try and measure pain but it turns out there is no actual scientific threshold for human pain. There are more than likely to be some psychopaths out there that don’t feel pain at all.

Pain is measured in numerous ways. Did you know there are 10 levels of pain? Dolorimeter is used to measure pain threshold and pain tolerance by applying heat, pressure, or electrical stimulation to the area. Acute pain is measure by the Visual Analogue Scale or Numeric Rating Scale. However, the VAS is usually called the ‘gold standard’ and used in pain-related research.

We begin with incidents that really do not cause us much pain at all — especially in the long-term — but these are the most niggling and irritating types of pain we experience daily.

Stepping on Lego

This isn’t painful for long, but have you ever been walking along peacefully and then stepped on a plug or a piece of Lego that your child has left on the floor? Not funny at all.

The bottom of your foot is extremely sensitive with over 200,000 receptors. However, did you know that walking across glass may be less painful than stepping on Lego because your foot distributes out the weight of the pain? So whoever designed the Lego and left those tiny bumps at the top, thanks very much.

Paper cuts on your fingers

Paper looks so innocent but it has edges that are sharp as razor blades. I find a paper cut doesn’t hurt me when it first happens, but a few hours later can leave me feeling seriously uncomfortable. As I work in an office and touching paper is a common part of my task, I decide to wear gloves to avoid the paper cuts when dealing with mass envelope mailings.

Just like your feet, your fingers are extremely sensitive and have more nerve fibers per square inch than any part of your body. Some people may not even feel the paper cut due to nerve damage which can actually cause the cut to become worse. You don’t feel the damage so you continue to act normal and won’t take prevention actions (e.g. bandage, antiseptic cream).

Hitting your funny bone

The funny bone isn’t actually a bone at all. There is a nerve that runs down our elbow called the ulnar nerve. As the nerve passes the elbow it runs through a channel called the cubital tunnel which is protected only by skin, making it vulnerable to bumps. When you hit your funny bone, you’re actually hitting the nerve against the bone and compressing it which causes the crazy tingling sensation which shoots up your arm!

Cuticle nail cuts

When the skin around our nails starts to peel, if it gets deep enough it can seriously hurt. Any little knock can set it off. It takes me great courage to have to grasp the tiny amount of peeled skin and pull it off to stop any further damage from occurring.

To be honest, I tried to find a scientific reason as to why it hurts so bad. I guess I’ve already mentioned the fingers having over 200,000 receptors so that’s one factor we can consider. However, what I did manage to find is how to stop this horrible event from occurring. Just make sure you keep your hands moist, don’t bite your nails and if you paint your nails — avoid using excess acetone.

The 4 incidents below are serious events that also occur daily to human beings. These can be seriously painful, can cause disabilities and even death in extreme circumstances.

Giving birth

Having a child will endure hours and hours of pain. Right from the start when you’re back is aching due to the heavy lump you’re carrying right up until the nurse is screaming “PUSH!”

As everyone’s pain threshold is different and everyone’s body acts differently, there is no way I can turn around and say that pregnancy resembles this and that. A few of my friends have given birth — one of them said it hurt but was tolerable whilst two said it was absolute agony.

Pain is not consistent throughout the labor process. Some women notice it immediately after their water breaks, their contractions may just feel like nasty menstrual pains or right up until they have to start pushing.

One good thing about giving birth is that it can be easily medicated by nitrous oxide, intravenous narcotics and the most frequently requested is an epidural. You can even take action before you give birth to help reduce the pain when the time comes such as birth preparation classes, prenatal vitamins, and frequent exercise.

One very nasty thing about giving birth is that it can result in death. 303,000 women die a year giving birth due to complications which are approximately 830 women a day.


The appendix is located between the upper and lower intestine. Your body doesn’t even require an appendix to function, but there it is anyway. Scientists don’t even know the function of the appendix but it is believed that it is there as storage for good bacteria.

Appendicitis typically starts with a pain in the middle of your tummy that may come and go. Within hours, the pain travels to the lower right-hand side, where the appendix usually lies and becomes constant and severe. Many of my friends have mistaken appendicitis as bad stomach pain, but within hours have ended up in A&E because they knew something was wrong.

Unfortunately, appendicitis will start and end with pain as it’s likely your appendix will need to be surgically removed to prevent it from bursting. A burst appendix is life-threatening as you can develop a pocket abscess in your stomach.

Broken bones

It doesn’t matter how high your pain threshold is — breaking a bone is guaranteed pain. I had a friend who played rugby and took a very bad tackle which resulted in him breaking his arm, nose, and leg all at the same time. He told me he was in so much pain he could barely respond to anyone and felt completely numb.

The most painful bone to break in your body is a leg bone — specifically the femur- as they are the largest and require a lot of impacts to snap in any shape or form.

There are different ways you can break a bone; you can completely snap it in half (complete fracture), crack it on one side (greenstick fracture), single fracture (broken in one place), the bone is completely crushed or in more than two pieces (comminuted fracture).


Shingles are a bunch of blotchy, red rashes that occur on only one side of your body. Over time, the rashes may start to turn into blisters and ooze fluid. 1 in 3 people in the United States will get shingles at least once in their lifetime — although is it more likely to occur in the elderly — and women are at higher risk of catching it a second time.

The pain associated with shingles is known to be severe. The pain that lasts with shingles is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which has been described as burning, stabbing, throbbing, and/or shooting pain. Other symptoms include long-term nerve pain, fever, headache, chills, upset stomach, muscle weakness, skin infection, scarring, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing. Ouch.

It’s not on the list, but torture is something that can cause us disgusting amounts of pain. This is because the torturer has the aim of causing you pain and will leave you hanging in continuous pain for horrid amounts of time.

So, there we have it. If any of these things happen to you then I’m so very sorry. Truly, I am. I do not handle pain well at all and I live off tablets, whether they are placebo or not they help me nonetheless.

There’s probably a bunch of other painful incidents that I’ve not mentioned. If you think of any, leave a response below!

BSc Psychology. PG DIP HR Management. UK. based. Editor of Show Your City publication. Top Writer in Sports.

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