Motley Crue singer Vince Neil has played concerts through broken bones and torn ligaments, but crippling pain recently forced him off the stage after just a few songs. The culprit? Kidney stones. It's one of the most painful medical conditions humans endure, pain experts say -- although some are worse.
In general, neuropathic pain -- pain produced by damage to nerves rather than tissue -- produces the most excruciating pain, according to Allan Basbaum, chair of the anatomy department at University of California, San Francisco, and former editor of PAIN, the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. And because many of these conditions come and go, patients often live in trepidation of their next attack. "The unknown is terrifying," Basbaum said.
While a definitive ranking is impossible, here's a look at a few of the most debilitating maladies, the kind Basbaum says patients rank as a 15 on a scale of 1-10.