The Most Painful Health Conditions You Need to Know About if You’re Over 50

There’s a lot to consider as you get older, especially when it comes to your health. You’re probably visiting the doctor more often to ensure your heart, brain, and body are healthy — despite any daily aches or pains. Unfortunately, certain diseases you’re more likely to develop after 50 can cause serious, debilitating pain.

Here are the diseases that are known to be the most painful, ranked (just wait till you see what made No. 1).

15. Arthritis

Aged woman suffering from pain in knee

Arthritis can show up all over the body. | Maroke/iStock/Getty Images

You’ve certainly heard of this condition before. And if you’re like millions of others, you probably even have some form of it. Healthline explains arthritis is when the joints become inflamed, causing stiffness and pain. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which typically gets worse with age (and the reason why you may be just developing arthritic pain when you’re over 50).

Anti-inflammatory medications can help the pain, as can exercising the joints and eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.

Next: This strange condition can cause extreme discomfort. 

14. Frozen shoulder

Young Asian woman got back pain

This can be painful and frustrating. |

The name sounds odd, but it’s actually quite a painful condition. Frozen shoulder is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. This scary condition can happen to anyone, though you’re more likely to get it if you’ve undergone a medical procedure that prevents you from moving your arms, Mayo Clinic explains.

Eventually, frozen shoulder enters a “thawing” stage, and you regain full range of motion. But that can take months — and you may experience a great deal of pain in the meantime.

Next: It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what causes this painful condition. 

13. Chronic lower back pain

Low back pain

Many Americans deal with this. |

Whether you realize it, your lower back is doing a lot of work. It’s supporting your upper body and also giving you the ability to bend and twist. But many wake up each morning with a sore lower back due to injury to the muscles, ligaments, joints or nerves, Spine-health says. And depending on the severity of the injury, the pain can be totally debilitating.

If you’re starting to feel soreness in your back, don’t wait it out. Talk to your doctor before the issue gets worse.

Next: This specific type of arthritis is particularly bad. 

12. Gout


Extreme pain comes along with this disease. | ThamKC/Getty Images

If you feel a rapid onset of pain in a joint, particularly in your feet, then you may be developing gout. WebMD explains gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints. This can cause extreme pain as well as warmth, swelling, and discoloration. Some people develop gout so severe that even a bed sheet touching the affected joint can be excruciating.

The chances of developing gout rise with age, too, so beware.

Next: Nerve pain is some of the worst you can experience. 

11. Sciatica


Your lower back is central to this disease. | Staras/Getty Images

Your sciatic nerve goes from your lower back down to each leg through your hips and buttocks. If you happen to have a herniated disk, bone spur, or any other condition that compresses this nerve, you can expect a ton of discomfort.

Mayo Clinic explains sciatica pain can range from your lower back all the way down your legs. And it can range from mild to an excruciating burning sensation. The good news is many cases of sciatica resolve themselves within a few weeks.

Next: You’re definitely familiar with this condition. 

10. Heart attack

Heart Pain

If you’re over 50, have your heart health checked. | TeoLazarev/iStock/Getty Images

It’s wise to have your heart health checked out once you’re over 50 — and if you have a family history of heart disease, it’s wise to go even earlier. Everyday Health explains heart attack symptoms can range from subtle to severe, and around one-third of all victims experience no chest pain at all. For others, however, the pain can be crippling.

Chest pain aside, there are other symptoms you should know, too, like shortness of breath and general discomfort in your upper body.

Next: This awful skin condition is even worse. 

9. Shingles

Kidney pain

Shingles often wrap around your torso. | Dirima/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you may be surprised to know that the virus lies dormant in your nerve tissue. And over time, it can reactivate — but this time, as shingles. Shingles symptoms include an incredibly painful rash of blisters that commonly wraps around your torso on either side, WebMD notes. The rash typically burns, itches, and is sensitive to the touch.

While shingles can occur at any age, life-threatening complications can occur if you’re over the age of 60.

Next: If you’re starting to lose your balance, beware of this happening. 

8. Broken bones

Broken bones

This is never fun. | DanBriffa/Getty Images

Whether it’s a hip, an arm, or a tiny bone in your foot, we shouldn’t have to tell you just how painful breaking a bone can be. And if you’re over 50, you need to be particularly aware of your bone health to prevent this from happening.

The National Osteoporosis Society found one in every two women and one in five men fracture a bone due to osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones to become brittle. Living a healthy lifestyle, staying away from cigarettes, and exercising regularly can greatly help your bone health.

Next: This scary disease isn’t too common, but you still need to know it. 

7. Sepsis

Sepsis or septicaemia

Sepsis can be deadly. | ttsz/Getty Images

Everyone’s had an infection before — but a complication of an infection is sepsis, a deadly (and painful) disease. Mayo Clinic explains sepsis happens when the chemicals in your body that are attempting to fight the infection trigger widespread inflammation. This can damage your organs and cause them to fail.

Sepsis is more common in older adults and commonly causes pain in the abdomen and difficulty breathing.

Next: This painful condition can come on suddenly with no warning. 

6. Kidney stones

Kidney stones after ESWL intervention.

These are common, but horrible. |

This condition can come on swiftly — and it’s known for the pain it can cause. Mayo Clinic explains kidney stones are mineral and salt deposits that form inside of the kidneys. They can affect anywhere in your urinary tract, and luckily they don’t typically cause any permanent damage.

Symptoms of kidney stones include severe pain below your ribs in your side and back, as well as pain while urinating. You may also note that the discomfort comes in waves.

Next: This inflammatory disease is one you definitely don’t want to deal with. 

5. Peritonitis

Feeling pain

You’ll feel this in your stomach. | Andrey Popov/iStock/Getty Images

This inflammatory disease affects the thin layer of tissue over your abdomen and can result from an infection, or more commonly, your appendix bursting. Healthline explains peritonitis is very serious and needs immediate attention — and you’ll likely know it by the way it feels. Intense pain in your abs is one symptom, as is tenderness, bloating, and distention.

The scariest aspect of this disease is that if it’s not treated immediately, the infection can enter your bloodstream. This can then cause dead bowel tissue and abscesses in the abs.

Next: Extreme back pain is typically associated with this issue.

4. Disk herniation

Disk herniation

This can be painful. | Sunlight19/Getty Images

The good news is that if you suffer from a herniated disk, you can recover in a matter of weeks. The bad news is that you’re likely to suffer a great deal of pain. Medical News Today explains this condition occurs when the jelly-like inside of the pads between your vertebra slips out. This typically occurs in the back, but it can also happen in the neck.

As you age, you’re more likely to have a disk herniation because of natural wear and tear. If you have significant pain in your back or shoulders, see a doctor for help.

Next: This type of headache is horrifyingly painful. 

3. Cluster headaches

headache during work at the office

These can make daily tasks unbearable. |

If you thought migraines were bad, then you definitely don’t want to experience a cluster headache. WebMD explains what exactly causes them is unknown, though they typically cause horrible pain around one of your eyes when they occur. They can be so bad, in fact, that sitting still can prove extremely difficult.

Thankfully, there are medications approved for the treatment of these headaches. And in extreme cases, surgery may even be necessary.

Next: Replacing this body part can be excruciating. 

2. Knee replacement surgery

Total Knee Replacement

Ouch. | robeo/Getty Images

It’s not uncommon to have to go through knee replacement surgery when you’re in your 50s, 60s, or beyond. And while surgery can be scary, it’s typically for the best. When it comes to dealing with your knees, however, you should prepare yourself for a lot of pain afterward.

Prevention explains swelling and bruising can last over three months after surgery, and the first couple weeks in recovery can be particularly brutal. Not only that, but you might deal with years of limited mobility and discomfort even after you’re healed.

Next: This awful disease is also painful. 

1. Cancer

Cancer woman

Cancer is something we all want to avoid. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Not every type of cancer causes a lot of pain. But when certain types reach the nerves or when tumors press up against blood vessels, this can feel quite severe. Medical Daily explains breast cancer can be intensely painful when the nerves are affected, and brain tumors cause the most pain when pressure is built inside the skull. Any cancers involving the stomach or intestines can also be seriously painful.

Your cancer risk rises as you age, so get check-ups regularly to ensure you catch any issues early.

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