Brain and Body

Can Pain Kill You?

January 19, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

Black and white photo of woman with ankle in a cast
Photo credit: Ted Eytan/flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

The answer might surprise you.

While some people claim to like the feeling of pain, the majority of us try to avoid the stinging, burning, or throbbing sensations. Pain is extremely subjective, but regardless of your tolerance to pain, can it actually get so intolerable that it would kill you?

YouTube user Thoughty2 answers the question in his video, and the answer might surprise you.

Pain ultimately can kill you, but it wouldn’t be because of the pain itself. Excruciating pain sends people into shock and knocks them unconscious, but there’s a specific kind of shock that can result in death — circulatory shock.

Circulatory shock is caused by an intense, acute level of pain. If it’s not treated quickly, it can cause fatal damage to the organs and brain.

SEE ALSO: Is It Actually Possible to Die From a Broken Heart?

In fact, in some cases during war, doctors found that they could save soldiers’ lives by administering fast-acting painkilling drugs, like morphine, to prevent the soldiers from going into circulatory shock. During World War II, soldiers reportedly brought morphine onto the battlefields with them, because having the drug on hand could mean the difference between life and death.

Check out Thoughty2’s full explanation of pain and circulatory shock below.

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