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Doctors Share Their Most Painful Experiences

Everybody has different experiences of pain, along with varying pain tolerances. In hospitals, pain is often measured by a visual scale of faces illustrating differing levels of discomfort. While doctors are often the ones mediating pain, they too can experience pain!

So when we noticed that physicians on Sermo were discussing what their own “10 out of 10” (on the verbal rating scale) most painful experience was, we took notice to find out their most cringe-worthy stories:

“My 10 was gluteal spasm from L5-S1 herniation.”  – Psychiatry

“I can confidently say corneal abrasions are up there 10/10.”  – Ophthalmology 

“Recovery from rotator cuff surgery. Don’t favor opiates much. So, when I went off the Norco the 2nd week in a foolish attempt to substitute Tramodol, it felt like my entire body was on fire. Recognized this as likely partially neuropathic and it did respond somewhat to gabapentin.”  – Family Medicine

“Labor with a 10-lb baby, followed by uterine inversion. When I started to push, I remembered all the people who told me it feels better when you can start pushing. I mentally labeled them all full of crap.”  – Family Medicine

“Awakening from a laparotomy with pubis to sternum incision!” – Anesthesiology 

“Iliotibial tendonitis. I just remember a red haze of pain. My mother told me that I was screaming.”  – Radiology 

“Root canal without anesthesia.” – Anesthesiology

“My worst pain was from kidney stones (fortunately, so far). I don’t count psychic pains (losing my parents, college friend, other relatives, etc).”  – Emergency Medicine

“My 10 was a shattered elbow (terrible triad) from a MVA in residency. I didn’t even notice my broken leg. I just looked down at my claw hand and arm in a Z configuration and screamed and screamed.”  – Pediatrics

“Honestly I don’t even remember my first kidney stone. It was during a pathology lecture in med school. I had been having some dull back aches, but then, this KAPOW kind of pain hit me and I passed out. When I came to, the pain came and went for an hour and I was throwing up and couldn’t sit still. Labor was a breeze in comparison.” – Pediatrics

Are you a doctor? Log into Sermo to join the conversation and share your experiences as a physician.