The Human Pain Experience

This is one of the few more painful things I have thought about over the years. I’m sure it would be rated pretty high on the VAS pain scale. Seriously, its bound to be excruciatingly painful. That wooden spike has to be hammered up into you enough to where you can be ‘posted’ upright upon it.

Imagine the start of the spike being lined up just before someone uses a mallet to start pushing it through you (a real pain in the perineum). Slowly and painfully, inch by inch, the gravity of the world brings you down to your death. Leading up to and the start of the spike going into you is the beginning of the human pain experience…your death being the end of that pain experience.

Imagine this being you living through a pain experience; with one caveat: after the ‘death’ of your pain experience….you as a person do not die, and continue on. You have full remembrance of what you just went through. We all have our own spikes that ‘impale’ us. Sometimes when we look back, we realize that huge wooden spike that when experienced, you wished nothing but for it to end, was just a splinter stuck in your finger.

There are sometimes physical identifiers of pain. Like the giant wooden spike going through you (yet somehow not managing to kill you, this time), there would be broken bones that healed and scars abound. Some would be superficial and some (like well healed broken bones) can be hidden deep within. No matter how much one represses the memory, a part of it remains. Your body should know just enough of it, to hopefully have that never happen again.

Alive or dead, share a splinter or a spike.


Think of one (yourself or one you know) who has been through a pain experience: did they have scars or broken bones? Name one.

Then also remember, that they were someones patient. And each patient we have, will come with their own pain experience whether they show it or not. And we all have been and/or will be someones patient too.

By buffkinwb

VCU DPT 2022
B.S. in Electrical Engineering 2010 VCU

4 replies on “The Human Pain Experience”

Walt, this piece of art is definitely a representation of physical pain, as well as your vivid description of the things that took place for the subject to get into this position. I certaily hope we as PTs will never have to treat a patient with such an injury!

I can think of many people, including myself, who have been through a pain experience. For some, there were obvious physical signs that something was wrong, like a broken bone or laceration. Others experienced silent pain – the kind of pain that the person dealing with it can recognize. If they hadn’t said that something hurt, I would have no idea. So I think it’s important to recognize that pain can either be physically manifested and diagnosed, or it can be more elusive and harder to pinpoint.

I think one of the scars that will always stay with a human being is not actually something that physically maims us as the name would suggest. I am talking about a broken heart of course. The pain and agony that one experiences with the end of relationship or a loss of a love one is indeed as sharp as the spike impaling through you. It is actually similar to what you suggested in your hypothetical situation. The symptoms of a broken heart writhes through you for days, weeks, months, or even years after the event. It is true that for the majority of people, we move on and find love again; but this is not the case for all. Even if we do move on, the emotional scars in our soul reveal themselves when our character cracks underneath pressure or a stressful situation. It is wound that comes to be a part of our character and even defines us as who we are.

I fractured my left elbow doing gymnastics when I was younger but nothing broke the skin or anything so when it healed, you couldn’t really tell that I had done anything to it. But, if you look closer at it and compare my left to my right elbow, you’d notice the curvature of my elbow is slightly different. This whole experience for me was overall, a splinter because I barely remember that it happened. But, if you asked younger me, I would tell you it was a spike.


Very interesting take on a depiction of pain. Personally for me right now, I started training for a 10k and ended up getting shin splints, which hasn’t necessarily resulted in anything I can physically see, i.e. scars or broken bones. But it’s definitely pain that I feel, and it’s prevented me from continuing on with any training, which has been a really frustrating experience. I’m not anyone’s patient at the moment, but that could change. And hopefully after these discussions, I hope that any therapeutic experience I have will involve a level of understanding of the pain I’m going through, no matter big or small the pain is I’m dealing with.

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