What are the most painful medical conditions?

Here are what are widely-considered the most painful medical conditions that a patient can experience:

  1.  Cluster headaches–these are severe stabbing headaches that affect one side of the head.  Patients describe it as “feeling like my eye is going to explode”, or “having a screwdriver in my eye.”
  2.  Shingles (herpes zoster)–This is an infection of a single nerve with a virus related to the chicken pox, and it causes blistering of the skin.  It causes severe burning pain, and if it is in the nerve around the eye can result in eye damage.
  3. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis):  This is a condition that occurs more commonly in women, and often occurs after an injury.  The capsule around the shoulder becomes inflamed and thickened, and any movement causes severe pain.
  4. Bone fractures–not surprisingly, fractured bones cause instant, severe, incapacitating pain.
  5. Spinal disc rupture–This causes excruciating back and leg pain, and is one of the most common causes of severe pain.
  6.   Migraine headaches–Migraines cause multiple symptoms including headache, visual changes, and vomiting.
  7. Kidney stones–Kidney stones cause severe pain that usually starts in the back and radiates to the groin.  The pain is usually so severe that it causes the patient to vomit.
  8. Trigeminal neuralgia–This is facial pain that radiates along the jaw, gums and teeth.  It comes in short bursts of pain and can last for years or even for a lifetime.
  9. Childbirth–the uterus is a muscle, and the contractions from labor cause intense severe pain that can cause vomiting.
  10. Pancreatitis–inflammation of the pancreas can occur for multiple reasons, including alcohol abuse, medications, or from gallstones.  Pancreatitis causes severe pain and vomiting and is a medical emergency.


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