Many people suffer from painful medical conditions. Pain is a sensation that’s triggered by a person’s nervous system, and it can be sharp or dull and constant or intermittent. A person can experience focal or diffuse pain, and that pain is the body’s way of telling a person that something is wrong in there, thus having one of the most important roles in protecting the body. However, certain medical conditions generate excessive amounts of pain, often referred by the patients as agonizing, excruciating, severe or awful pain.
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, the common symptoms for all arthritis disorders include varied levels of pain that ranges from medium to awful. The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is severe joint pain. Pain is often a constant and may be localized to the joint affected.
The pain from arthritis is due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, crushing joints and fatigue.
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It occurs when pancreatic enzymes (especially trypsin) that digest food are activated in the pancreas instead of the small intestine. It may be acute – beginning suddenly and lasting a few days, or chronic – occurring over many years. The most common symptoms of pancreatitis are severe upper abdominal pain radiating to the back, nausea, and vomiting that is worsened with eating.
Blood pressure may be elevated by pain or decreased by dehydration or bleeding. Heart and respiratory rates are often elevated. The abdomen is usually tender but to a lesser degree than the pain itself. As is common in abdominal disease, bowel sounds may be reduced from reflex bowel paralysis. Fever or jaundice may be present.
The treatment of pancreatitis is supportive and depends on severity. Morphine generally is suitable for pain control.
8. Herpes zoster (Shingles)
Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe. The initial infection with varicella zoster virus causes the acute (short-lived) illness chickenpox which generally occurs in children and young people.
Burning or tingling pain, along with numbness or itching, are among the first shingles-related symptoms to appear, and that the pain or discomfort manifests in one part – and on only one side – of the the body. After several days, fluid-filled blisters appear on the skin.
The pain ranges from medium to extreme in the affected dermatome, with sensations that are often described as stinging, tingling, aching or throbbing, and can be interspersed with quick stabs of agonizing pain.
Achalasia, also known as esophageal achalasia, achalasia cardiae, cardiospasm, and esophageal aperistalsis, is an esophageal motility disorder involving the smooth muscle layer of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter.
Achalasia is characterized by difficulty swallowing, regurgitation, and sometimes severe throat and chest pain.
The most common form is primary achalasia, which has no known underlying cause. It is due to the failure of distal esophageal inhibitory neurons. However, a small proportion occurs secondary to other conditions, such as Esophageal cancer or Chagas disease (an infectious disease common in South America).Achalasia affects about one person in 100.000 per year.
The main symptoms of achalasia are dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), regurgitation of undigested food, massive chest pain behind the sternum, and weight loss. Dysphagia tends to become progressively worse over time and to involve both fluids and solids. Some people may also experience coughing when lying in a horizontal position. The chest pain experienced, also known as cardio spasm and non-cardiac chest pain can often be mistaken for a heart attack. It can be extremely painful in some sufferers. Food and liquid, including saliva, are retained in the esophagus and may be inhaled into the lungs.
6. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
Frozen shoulder is probably one of the most painful and debilitating conditions faced in the chiropractic clinic. What’s more it remains extremely painful, and disabling, for a long period time, if not properly managed. Up to three years. Simple daily activities like taking off a t-shirt or putting on a coat, even combing one’s hair become an ordeal. The joint becomes so tight and stiff that it is nearly impossible to carry out simple movements, such as raising the arm. The movement that is most severely inhibited is external rotation of the shoulder.
Shoulder pain is caused by many conditions. The majority, but not all, are the result of irritation of nerves in the lower neck or upper thoracic spine. That is why chiropractic treats shoulder pain so successfully.
It is one of the more difficult conditions causing shoulder pain. It can be successfully treated with chiropractic, however the shrunken shoulder capsule, depending on how advanced the shoulder pain is, may take several months and very occasionally a whole year to resolve, even with chiropractic. Medically, the condition is acknowledged to take up to three years to resolve.
5. Kidney stones
Passing a kidney stone is one of the most painful medical conditions. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, states that kidney stones – hard masses or crystal aggregations – are one of the most painful urologic disorders, and that the first symptom of a kidney stone is often extreme pain that arises without warning. A person with kidney stones will usually experience a sharp, cramping pain in his low back and flank or lower abdomen, along with nausea and vomiting and pain that eventually spreads to his groin.
The hallmark of stones that obstruct the ureter or renal pelvis is excruciating intermittent pain that radiates from the flank to the groin or to the genital area and inner thigh. This particular type of pain, known as renal colic, is often described as one of the strongest pain sensations known.
According to the NIDDK, the cause of kidney stones is often difficult to determine, and while some types of foods may promote stone formation, it’s unclear whether eating certain foods causes kidney stones in people who are not susceptible. Susceptible individuals include people with a family history of kidney stones, people with urinary tract infections and people with hyperparathyroidism.
4. Dercum disease
Dercum’s Disease is a rare condition characterized by multiple, painful lipomas. These lipomas mainly occur on the trunk, the upper arms and upper legs. The diagnosis of Dercum’s disease implies a long, chronic pain syndrome of debilitating nature. The exact cause of Dercum’s disease is unknown.
Multiple painful lipomas are the cardinal symptom of this disease, as well as skeletal pain in wrists, elbows, hips, tail bone and the long bones of the arms and legs.. The pain can be very intense and can be described as aching, stabbing, smarting or burning. The pain is chronic and progressive, but varies much in cycles.
Treatment of Dercum’s disease is usually targeted towards pain relief rather than removal. Currently, there is a lack of scientific data on the use of integrative therapies for the treatment or prevention of Dercum’s disease.
3. Hidradenitis suppurativa
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a skin disease that most commonly affects areas bearing apocrine sweat glands or sebaceous glands, such as the underarms, breasts, inner thighs, groin and buttocks.
This non-contagious disease manifests as clusters of chronic abscesses, epidermoid cysts, sebaceous cysts, pilonidal cyst or multilocalised infections, which can be as large as baseballs or as small as a pea, that are extremely painful to the touch and may persist for years with occasional to frequent periods of inflammation, culminating in incision and drainage of pus, often leaving open wounds that will not heal. For unknown reasons, people with hidradenitis develop plugging or clogging of their apocrine glands. It causes chronic scarring and pus formation of the underarms (axilla) and groin/inner thigh areas. The simple procedure of incision and drainage provides some relief from severe, often debilitating, pressure pain.
2. Trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as Fothergill’s disease is a neuropathic disorder characterized by episodes of intense pain in the face, originating from the trigeminal nerve. It has been described as among the most painful conditions known to mankind. It is estimated that 1 in 15,000 people suffer from Trigeminal neuralgia, although the actual figure may be significantly higher due to frequent misdiagnosis. In a majority of cases, TN symptoms begin appearing after the age of 50, although there have been cases with patients being as young as three years of age. It is more common in females than males.
The trigeminal nerve is a paired cranial nerve that has three major branches: the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve, and the mandibular nerve. One, two, or all three branches of the nerve may be affected. 10-12% of cases are bilateral (occurring on both the left and right sides of the face).
To describe the pain sensation, patients may describe a trigger area on the face so sensitive that touching or even air currents can trigger an episode; however, in many patients the pain is generated spontaneously without any apparent stimulation. It affects lifestyle as it can be triggered by common activities such as eating, talking, shaving and brushing teeth. Wind, high pitched sounds, loud noises such as concerts or crowds, chewing, and talking can aggravate the condition in many patients. The attacks are said by those affected to feel like stabbing electric shocks, burning, pressing, crushing, exploding or shooting pain that becomes intractable.
1. Cluster headache
Cluster headache, also called “suicide headache” is a neurological disease that involves, as its most prominent feature, an immense degree of pain in the head. Cluster headaches occur periodically: spontaneous remissions interrupt active periods of pain. The cause of the disease is currently unknown. It affects approximately 0.1% of the population, and men are more commonly affected than women.
Cluster headaches are excruciating unilateral headaches of extreme intensity. The duration of the common attack ranges from as short as 15 minutes to three hours or more. The onset of an attack is rapid, and most often without the preliminary signs that are characteristic of a migraine. However, some sufferers report preliminary sensations of pain in the general area of attack, often referred to as “shadows”, that may warn them an attack is lurking or imminent.
The pain may be very sharp and may cause pain around the eye area and may also be a pain within the back of the eye. The pain of cluster headaches is markedly greater than in other headache conditions, including severe migraines; experts have suggested that it may be the most painful condition known to medical science. Female patients have reported it as being more severe than childbirth. In some cases even morphine is not enough.
Dr. Peter Goadsby, Professor of Clinical Neurology at University College London (now University of California, San Francisco), a leading researcher on the condition has commented:
“Cluster headache is probably the worst pain that humans experience. I know that’s quite a strong remark to make, but if you ask a cluster headache patient if they’ve had a worse experience, they’ll universally say they haven’t. Women with cluster headache will tell you that an attack is worse than giving birth. So you can imagine that these people give birth without anesthetic once or twice a day, for six, eight, or ten weeks at a time, and then have a break. It’s just awful.“