The 20 most painful conditions you are likely to suffer according to the NHSNovember 3, 2019
At some point we all suffer ailments – but the NHS has now listed the most painful conditions we are likely to be afflicted with.
Each of the entries are considered by experts to cause pain so great that everyday tasks are rendered almost impossible.
A number of the conditions are related to ageing, although others can affect people of all stages of life and backgrounds.
Further advice on how to deal with each condition can be found on the NHS website.
Cluster headaches are debilitating bursts of pain in one side of the head, often felt near to the eye.
Charity OUCH UK said that "hardly anyone" has heard of the disorder, despite there being roughly the same number of cluster headaches sufferers as people with Multiple Sclerosis in the UK.
The charity added that people afflicted with the "devastating" disease can struggle in isolation with cluster headaches for years.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of the skin and nerves.
It usually affects a particular area, on one side of the body only.
The most significant symptom is a painful rash which can transform into itchy blisters containing the virus.
Bouts of shingles typically last between two and four weeks.
However, a fifth of shingles sufferers go on to develop nerve pain in the affected area of skin.
This pain can be severe and last for a number of months – and even longer.
Shingles can strike people of all ages, but the infection is most common in people over the age of 70.
It is much less common in young people.
Frozen shoulder is essentially pain and stiffness in the shoulder which lasts for a prolonged period.
According to the NHS, the joint can become so tight and stiff that it is virtually impossible to carry out simple movements, such as raising an arm.
It is not yet known what causes frozen shoulder, but it can occur in the wake of a shoulder or arm injury, and it more commonly occurs in people with diabetes.
Broken bones can be incredibly painful, and in certain circumstances fractures of the ankle, hip, arm and nose are among the most painful of all injuries.
Small breaks can be far less painful, but larger ones can induce agony – especially if the sufferer attempts to move the affected area.
Broken bones usually need to be lined up and fixed in position so they set properly.
As a general rule, the length of time a fracture takes to heal is dependent on the age of the patient and the size of the bone.
5.Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
The NHS website describes this as a "poorly understood condition", marked by the patient experiencing persistent, severe and debilitating pain.
Although most cases of CRPS are triggered by an injury, the resulting pain causes unexpectedly severe and long-lasting discomfort.
It is typically confined to just one limb, but it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.
The skin of the affected body part can become so sensitive – to the extent that a light touch can provoke agonising pain.
Affected areas can also become swollen, stiff or undergo fluctuating changes in colour or temperature.
Some cases of CRPS are incurable and will never alleviate, and the affected person will experience pain for many years.
Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle.
Most are caused when the arteries narrow and fill up with fatty materials, preventing blood from flowing.
Heart attacks can be fatal.
Smoking and other examples of unhealthy living are major contributory factors, with experts recommending regular exercise and balanced diets.
However, some people are more prone to heart disease, which can be hereditary.
The most common signs of a heart attack include chest pain; pain in the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach; sweating; light-headedness; shortness of breath; nausea and vomiting.
The British Heart Foundation's website can provide more information.
One of the most common causes of back pain is a slipped disc.
It is often the result of an injury brought on by twisting or lifting, causing one of the discs in the spine to rupture, and gel inside leaks out.
Most people with a slipped disc experience sudden and severe lower back pain.
It is usually eased by lying down, and often made worse by moving your back, coughing or sneezing.
It can also cause severe leg pain.
8.Sickle cell disease
Sickle cell disease is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from one's parents, with sickle cell anaemia known as the most common type.
It results in an abnormality in haemoglobin, the the oxygen-carrying protein found in red blood cells.
A sudden episode of pain, known as a pain crisis, is one of the most common and distressing symptoms of sickle cell disease.
The pain, which usually occurs in the bones and joints, can vary from mild to severe and last for up to seven days.
Some people may have an episode every few weeks, while others may have fewer than one a year.
People with arthritis endure constant and often debilitating pain of the joints, usually in the hips, knees, wrists or fingers.
The pain can develop suddenly or over time, and is often usually linked to muscle aches and stiffness in the joints.
Migraines are distinct from headaches in that they are a complex disabling neurological disorder, according to the Migraine Trust.
The trust said: "For many people the main feature is a painful headache. Other symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting.
"Migraine attacks can be very frightening and may result in you having to lie still for several hours.
"The symptoms will vary from person to person and individuals may have different symptoms during different attacks. Your attacks may differ in length and frequency. Migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours and most people are free from symptoms between attacks. Migraine can have an enormous impact on your work, family and social lives."
Sciatica is a back condition which affects the sciatic nerve.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body, running from behind the pelvis down to the feet.
Sciatica occurs when the nerve becomes irritated or compressed.
This most commonly involves pressure being placed on the nerve by a slipped disc. Often, the pain follows the path of the nerve.
Other symptoms can include tingling sensations, similar to 'pins and needles', cramp and shooting pain that starts in the buttocks and travels swiftly down towards the foot.
Sufferers can experience any level of pain from mild to excruciating – to the point where it is impossible to put any weight on the affected leg.
Sciatica can affect people of all ages, but is more common as you get older.
Passing a kidney stone can produce a sudden, sharp, cramping pain in the lower back, along the side of your abdomen, or occasionally in the groin. The pain can, in some cases, last for hours, with pain-free intervals in between.
Most kidney stones are small enough to pass out in your urine.
Appendicitis is a painful swelling of the appendix. It is most common in children, who will typically complain of pain in the middle of their stomach that comes and goes. The pain then shifts to the lower-right side of the tummy and grows more uncomfortable.
Appendicitis is a medical emergency that usually needs an urgent operation to remove the appendix before it bursts.
Trigeminal neuralgia is sudden, severe facial pain. It's often described as a sharp shooting pain or like having an electric shock in the jaw, teeth or gums.
It usually occurs in short, unpredictable attacks that can last from a few seconds to about two minutes. The attacks stop as suddenly as they start.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK say that unfortunately, for most sufferers, the condition is progressive and will worsen over time. Although to date there is no guaranteed cure for the condition, there are a number of treatments which can give relief.
Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other areas of the body, most commonly in the pelvic region. This tissue responds to hormones in the same way as the lining of the womb but, with no outlet, it can cause inflammation, scarring and adhesions, leading to severe pain and many other symptoms.
The classic symptoms of endometriosis are severe pain during or between periods; very long, heavy and irregular periods; painful bowel movements; pain in the bladder and pain during or after sex.
Extreme fatigue is very common, and fertility may also be affected.
It costs the UK economy £8.2 billion every year in lost working time and healthcare costs and affects 1.5 million women in the UK.
But endometriosis is estimated to take seven and a half years to diagnose.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but the condition is manageable and timely diagnosis could save women from many years of living in constant pain.
There is no definitive cause for endometriosis and the only conclusive way to determine if a woman has endometriosis is through a laparoscopy, usually done under general anaesthetic.
Gout, which has been recognised for the past 2,000 years, is a painful rheumatic disease which causes the inflammation of the joints and often starts in the feet or toes – for 70 per cent of sufferers a joint in the big toe is the first to be affected.
Uric acid gathers and crystallises at the joint, causing swelling and heat with the skin sometimes becoming purplish red.
Gout, which mainly affects men aged between 40 and 60 causes acute, intermittent and painful attacks of arthritis in the joints of the foot, knee, ankle, hand and wrist.
But is can be treated through either medicine or a serious change in lifestyle.
Acute pancreatitis is the swelling of the pancreas, a banana-sized organ that's part of the digestive system. The most common symptom is severe abdominal pain that appears suddenly.
This dull aching pain often gets steadily worse and can travel along your back or below your left shoulder blade.
Eating or drinking, especially fatty foods, may also make you feel worse very quickly. Leaning forward or curling into a ball may help to relieve the pain, but lying flat on your back often increases it.
A stomach ulcer – or peptic ulcer as they are sometimes known – is an open sore in the lining of your stomach or your small intestine.
The main cause of these ulcers is bacteria – responsible for up to 90 per cent of cases. The second most common cause is overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including the commonly used aspirin and ibuprofen which can irritate the stomach lining in some people.
Excessive smoking or alcohol abuse can also increase the chances of developing the condition.
Another significant cause of ulcers is stress. Chronic stress can increase the chances of developing a stomach ulcer and this, combined with the bad habits that many of us fall into – such as irregular meal patterns and generally eating on the move – can play a major factor.
Those suffering from a stomach ulcer often describe their symptoms as similar to indigestion, heartburn and bad hunger pangs – a burning sensation or pain in the upper abdomen which can travel up to the neck or down as far as the navel. As you described, the pain can last a few minutes or can continue for as long as a few hours depending on the ulcer itself.
It is the abdominal pain which distinguishes a stomach ulcer from both heartburn and indigestion though – often coupled with both bloating and abdominal fullness.
In some sufferers eating can actually ease the pain whereas others think it makes the pain worse. Most people find that fatty foods, citrus drinks and spicy food irritate the ulcer. It is important that these types of food are avoided to reduce the chances of a flare up.
Fibromyalgia Action UK explains the chronic condition causes "widespread pain and profound fatigue".
It says: "The pain tends to be felt as diffuse aching or burning, often described as head to toe. It may be worse at some times than at others. It may also change location, usually becoming more severe in parts of the body that are used the most.
"The fatigue ranges from feeling tired, to the exhaustion of a flu-like illness. It may come and go and people can suddenly feel drained of all energy – as if someone just 'pulled the plug.'"
20.Pain after surgery
It's common to have some pain after surgery, though the intensity of the pain will vary according to the type of operation.
But too much pain after surgery is not a good thing, the NHS website explains, and you should never feel you have to "tough it out".
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