Many people are curious about what is the most painful bone to break. It’s understandable why an inquiring mind would want to know, but unfortunately it’s a difficult question to answer. Pain is subjective, and people characterize the pain of any given injury in different ways – often based on previous experiences with pain and injury.
Stress, temperature, and mood can also cause the same person to describe their pain in different ways at different times. Then there’s the fact that some fractures may not hurt much at the moment of injury, but the pain will worsen over time. Some involve months or even years of lingering pain.
Despite all these factors, there are some broken bones which are generally accepted to be more painful than others. See below for what makes our list of the most painful bone to break.
The tailbone or coccyx refers to the lower three to five bones of the spine. If any of these bones are broken, the pain can last for a few months. And while rest will ease the pain of most injuries, that’s not the case with a broken tailbone. Not only is walking painful but so are sitting and even sleeping on your back. Furthermore, while the initial injury is painful, so is the healing process. The rehabilitation period can last more than a year and the discomfort is likely to continue throughout this period.
The femur or thighbone is the longest, largest bone in the body. When it is broken, the pain can be severe at the point of injury and for a long time afterward. Since some main arteries run alongside the femur, they can also be damaged when the bone is fractured. While some femur fractures are simple and short, in other cases the bone breaks completely into two or it is crushed. The pain can be agonizing.
A broken neck refers to a fracture of any of the seven cervical vertebrae between the skull and the upper back and shoulders. This is a serious injury since these bones protect the spinal cord. If the spinal cord is damaged, the end result can be paralysis or even death. If the neck is fractured, there is usually instant pain, although it is not always intense. The consequences of a broken neck can last a lifetime.
Broken ribs are usually caused by chest trauma, such as that which occurs from a fall, motor vehicle accident or contact sports. The jagged edges of broken ribs can damage major blood vessels or internal organs. Broken ribs tend to be painful both at the time the injury occurs and during the lengthy recovery. Swelling, tenderness and bruising occur shortly following the injury but since ribs can’t be splinted, they are usually left to heal on their own. Managing the pain is key to ensuring that the patient can breathe properly.
A collarbone or clavicle fracture involves one of the main bones in the shoulder. Most broken collarbones occur when the person falls onto their shoulder or outstretched arm. The injured person will feel a sudden sharp pain and possibly hear a pop or click. Moving the arm may result in a grinding or clicking feeling and moving the arm away from the body will be especially painful. Even after treatment, upper body pain is likely. The pain may last for about two weeks before gradually beginning to improve.
There is no clear answer about which bone is the most painful to break since so much variation is involved. Individuals have different thresholds for pain and no two broken bones are exactly alike.