What’s the worst pain you’ve experienced? A broken bone? Touching something hot? Maybe stepping on a sharp toy? Well, in this What If experiment, you’ll learn what real pain feels like. What would be the most painful experience you could have? What different types of pain would you feel? And why could this pain be good for you?
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. It’s the result of lightning-fast messages sent between your nerves and your brain. Pain comes in many shapes and sizes. And everybody experiences it differently. It can feel like throbbing, stabbing or just steady aching. And it can leave you feeling sick to your stomach, angry or even depressed.
So brace yourself. You’re about to enter a world of extreme pain.
The pain you feel in childbirth is from contractions of the uterus and pressure on the cervix. Once your water breaks and you’re in full labor, this pain only gets worse. You’d experience cramping under your belly. Or pain radiating all around. It could be so bad that you’d have tunnel vision and tune out everything around you. Delivering your child could feel as if somebody was pulling your internal organs out.
Kidney stones are a hard mineral material made from chemicals in your urine. When these stones get stuck in your ureter, you’d experience severe cramping and sharp pain on either side of your lower back. It would start out of nowhere. And then it would come in waves. But it would feel like being stabbed in the back. And then having that knife twisted.
Toothaches are often caused by nerve irritations in the root of a tooth. They can be sharp and sudden. Or a constant throbbing. And sorry to say, they often get worse at night. So if you thought falling asleep would give you some relief, well, you’d be wrong.
Cluster headaches are considered one of the most painful types of headaches. They come from a nerve pathway in your brain responsible for the sensation of heat and pain in your face. Without warning, you’d feel intense pain in or around one eye. And this burning or piercing feeling could last from 15 minutes to three hours. It would pretty much feel like your head is about to split wide open.
The femur is the bone in your thigh that stretches from your hip to your knee. If you broke your femur, you’d feel immediate and severe pain. It would take a lot of force to break this bone, so you’d feel it in the hip, back and buttocks too. The feeling would be a mix of deep radiating pain and total numbness. Almost like freezing your leg on the outside while dousing it in flames on the inside.
Second-degree burns not only affect the top layer of skin but the second layer too. Superficial burns of the second layer of skin are initially the most painful. When the first layer burns off, it leaves nerve endings exposed. And that means even a gentle breeze could cause agony.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of your appendix. You’d feel a sudden pain in your lower right abdomen that would start to move. Any physical movement could make the pain more severe. So be careful when you cough, or you could feel a sensation similar to multiple knives carving up your insides.
There’s no way to prepare for it. But when a blood vein presses against the trigeminal nerve, you could be close to one of the most painful feelings possible. It would feel more severe than a heart attack. You would feel a sudden jolt, almost like getting zapped with tons of electricity. At first, it would only be for a few seconds but could start to last longer. It would be so intense that you’d be unable to eat or drink anything.
You could become infected with tetanus after a puncture injury such as stepping on a nail. It’s caused by a bacteria that produces a poison resulting in sudden, involuntary muscle contractions. You’d arch your neck and back. Your legs would stiffen like rocks. And you’d clench your fists tightly for several minutes at a time. Man, I need to check if I’m up for another tetanus shot.
This list wouldn’t be complete without some animal kingdom representation. And the 13 spines on the back of the stonefish could inflict a ton of pain onto you. These spines are full of venom. This venom would cause intense swelling around the sting. And that swelling and pain would quickly spread to the whole limb.
You’d be so preoccupied with the feeling of a gigantic sledgehammer slamming down on the affected body part that you wouldn’t even be able to put your pain into words. Whew, that was intense. After all this pain, you wouldn’t be crazy to wish you never experienced pain at all.
- “What Is Pain/Types Of Pain Treated?”. Muhammad Scott. 2021. hopkinsmedicine.org.
- “Why Do I Have Pain? (For Kids) – Nemours Kidshealth”. 2021. kidshealth.org.
- “Why Do We Feel Pain?”. Rodriguez Diana, and MPH Lindsey Marcellin. 2013. everydayhealth.com.
- “How Painful Is Childbirth, Really?”. 2021. healthline.com.
- “Kidney Stone Pain: Firsthand Recollections Of The Experience”. 2021. intermountainhealthcare.org.