Pain is both a universal truth and universal dread. It has driven some men to isolation, others to suicide. And though it may take various forms — emotional, psychological, even moral — most would agree physical pain is the kind we feel the greatest desire to immediately end.

“We don’t even ask happiness, just a little less pain,” said poet Charles Bukowski. So what are the most physically painful experiences? We, being Medical Daily, will focus on health conditions though we add a grace note of other sorts of suffering. In no particular order, we believe the following conditions provide the most excruciating of physical agonies.

Cluster headaches, which affect less than one percent of people, are marked by unbearable stabbing and penetrating pain, usually centered around the eye. These severe headaches occur suddenly and peak within 15 minutes. They run in families, with mostly men suffering from this particular pain.

Childbirth is so piercing a pain, mothers’ make a point of telling their children they ‘forget’ how bad it is… need we say more?

Shingles is a painful skin rash, the remnants of your childhood case of chickenpox. Generally it occurs among older adults, sometimes pregnant women, and usually affects just one side of the body, often the face or torso. Even wearing light clothes adds to the suffering. Continue to next page…