• Question: what diseases cause the most pain?

    Asked by knjoshob to Matthew, Marianne, Kaitlin, Ettie, Emmanuelle, Anabel, Aina on 11 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Anabel Martinez Lyons

      Anabel Martinez Lyons answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      Hi – a very interesting question! There are some doctors in this zone that will be better able to answer this, but in the meantime, here’s a list of some chronic pain disorders and contractable conditions that I find pretty fascinating (with a small description of each).
      1) Fibromyalgia – a condition which is poorly understood that causes whole body pain, tiredness and trouble sleeping.
      2) Lyme disease – a disease caused by a bacterial infection, passed to people by ticks, that leads to joint and muscle pain, headaches, neck and shoulder stiffness and trouble moving over time.
      3) Arthritis – a common and well-studied condition that targets the joints causing joint swelling, decreased mobility and pain (typically it affects older people, but in some cases it can start to develop in young people).
      4) Endometriosis – growth of womb cells outside of the womb. This condition can be very painful for some women and if not well managed with painkillers alone can often need surgery to treat.
      5) Sciatica – the sciatic nerve runs from your hip to your feet and can become irritated (either due to trauma or sometimes with age) and if so, can cause pretty gruesome pain when triggered
      6) Shingles – caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. It is an infection of a nerve and the skin around that nerve, leading to pain, fever and often skin sores/blisters.
      7) Sickle cell disease – a serious blood disorder that causes crescent moon-shaped red blood cells that can’t carry oxygen very well, and can get stuck in the blood vessels. This condition causes periods of intense pain and anaemia if not managed.
      8) Lupus – a very interesting autoimmune disease which targets the joints (like arthritis), but also other tissues (heart, lung and brain to name a few) which swell and can be very painful.

      Hope that answers your question and gives you a bit to read more about..!

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Complex regional pain syndrome sounds like one of the most painful diseases to me (as pain is quite subjective we can’t really rank diseases definitively in terms of pain). It is usually triggered by an injury to a specific part of the body, but even when the injury heals the pain can persist in a really horrible way. Even slight touches or bumps to the area can cause excruciating pain. The limb affected can swell and become difficult to use. It’s not completely understood but research suggests that it is caused by our nervous systems reacting inappropriately to the injury. The symptoms can last years, but there are treatments available like painkillers, physical therapy, psychotherapy or methods that stop the nerves in the area from firing. This can be done with toxins like Botox (the same one that people use to paralyse their facial muscles to stop wrinkles) or with surgery.

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      This is a really interesting thought, but also extremely difficult to answer…

      Pain is hugely subjective, in that each person experiences pain differently (there is even a condition where people cant feel any pain at all!!)

      That being said, there are a number of different diseases which are considered to be very painful two of these are:

      Shingles – this affects nerves, and so it results in quite bad pain

      Ebola – this disease is caused by an infection and causing really bad pain. (stomach pain, internal and external bleeding!)

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 12 Jun 2019:


      Eek, hard question. I suppose you’d have to define what “pain” is. There are lots of diseases (like arthritis or angina) that give the affected physical pain and aches. But what about mental illnesses? How would you compare the pain of depression or anxiety with someone who has a pain that is more physically describable. Difficult question!

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