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Do you have a high tolerance for pain? It's positive and negative.

It's genetic. Three generations: Mom, me and Claire. With a high tolerance for pain, we tend to blast past injuries and pain. That's not good.

Ignoring pain.

Phone rings. It's Claire. "Mom, I'm driving to work. I keep pulling over on the highway to throw up from the pain. I have a kidney infection that I've been ignoring." I told her to drive straight to a clinic. "A kidney infection can permanently damage your kidneys," I replied. "Do you want to be on dialysis?" Claire drove to the clinic.

Grinding out a nerve.

As a senior in high school, Mom was class president and a cheerleader. At a football game, she was atop a pyramid of cheerleaders. Dismounting, she did a flip. Landing hard, she temporarily dislocated her hip. (Now cheerleaders catch the top girl.).

"A nerve slipped into my hip socket," Mom said. "Doctors couldn't do anything for it. It took a year to grind the nerve out." She continued cheerleading.

My madness.

Fifteen years ago, I fell and broke my right index finger and right wrist. Also got a severe SLAP tear in my right shoulder. "You have severe arthritis in the base joints of your thumbs," the doctor said. "You need joint replacement."

I blew off his advice and continued hiking, weightlifting and shoveling snow.

"How's the shoulder?" my doctor asked during an annual exam three years later. "I figure chronic pain is good practice for getting old," I joked. Silence. Looked up and she was writing an order for shoulder surgery.

Ignoring injuries catches up to you. You can't fool your body. Now my thumb joints are bone-on-bone. I will see a surgeon in March.

"It's just a scratch."

This is my pat answer when someone asks, "Are you okay?" after I trip, fall and hurt myself while hiking. It usually happens when I'm tired. On steep descents as light is fading.

Nobody is going to carry me out. What am I going to do, lie down and signal for a helicopter? Unless my leg is broken, I can hike out under my own power. Maybe I can crawl.

In the Grand Canyon, powerful executive men get to the bottom, lie down and demand a helicopter out, I read in a hilarious book by a Grand Canyon ranger. She was also on the search and rescue team. She tells them unless they are having a heart attack, they must hike up to the rim themselves.

Your thoughts?


  1. Stretching before shouldering my 40-lb. pack. Second day. I was stiff and sore. Backpacking in the glorious Olympic Mountains, WA at age-24. I love this picture.

  2. Like her Dad, Claire is powerful tennis player. She has perfect placement. At age-18.

  3. Family vacation at Lake Michigan. Super athlete Mom with us four kids. I'm shivering and wet in the wind, second from the right. We kids were unhappy about being called out of the water for a picture.

  4. Thumb brace. I'm left-handed. Naturally, the left thumb is the worst.

LiterateHiker 9 Jan 23

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My sense of pain seems to be pretty well calibrated. I had a minor strain in my knee this winter and had to use lots of aspirin and favor it for a few weeks, now I can again walk, run or bike. My pain threshold seems to warn me when it matters.


I do. Had both kids, never felt labor. Everyone says "oh, you're so lucky." No, I barely made it in time the second child and he had the cord around his neck three times and it was knotted. We're lucky he's here and not damaged.

I had a hole in my colon, didn't know it, went to the ER because of a 104 temperature that would not go down with NSAIDs. Doc in ER asked me if I wanted morphine, so I asked why I'd be wanting that? He'd stuck his finger into it through the abdomen. It never hurt. I refused meds.

I got teeth drilled regularly without novocaine including crowns put on. I have to use a splint at night for grinding because I don't feel the pain when I do like most. TMJ is permanent damage.

I have to be very careful because I don't always know that I'm hurting myself until there is a blood.

There are permanent ramifications as you've noted. My left big toe is an artificial joint, carpal tunnel surgery after the entire arm went numb and on and on.

I'm the only one in the family.


Oh, honey, you need to be careful! Thank you for your reply. Hugs, Kathleen


It is very nice to hear stories of healthy mom and daughter relationships. My Dad was a red head and had a very high pain tolerance and I too have one. It has shifted some since I turned 65.


Well, with stomach ache I'm a sissy, can't take it. Muscular pain I can endure quite easily. When I made my tattoos, it actually helped me enduring pain. However, I still can't handle well stomach ache... lol!!!


Depends on whose pain.


I think that In certain limited situations a high tolerance for pain may be beneficial. It seems that many factors are involved in pain tolerance.

I would not have root canal treatment without a local anaesthetic unless I were able to practice transcend dental medication. 🙂


Often Claire and I meditate during dental work instead of a local anesthetic.

@LiterateHiker For root canal treatment?


It's a judgement call. Meditation works for minor dental work.

A root canal requires local anesthetic.

@LiterateHiker I was beginning to wonder if you practiced transcend dental medication. 😉

@LiterateHiker It could be that your endorphins kick in early and you do not feel the pain


Since age 18, I have been doing transcendental meditation. Claire meditates, too.

@LiterateHikter I have had minor dental work which involved drilling without a local anaesthetic.


Me, too.


Redheads tend to have a high tolerance for pain, and I have seen this borne out for me (even though my hair is not red as it was when I was young, I am forever a redhead).

On the other hand, we most often require more pain medication when we have pain. I always need more Novocaine (or whatever) when I have work done on my teeth.

I guess a positive on one side and a negative on the other.



Whenever I seriously hurt myself I sort of "go catatonic" to deal with it. Minor injuries release a powerful blast of language. I won't behave stupidly, but I can shut out acute pain, such as when I got shot, when I crashed into a train, when I blew off half the skin on the back of my right hand with boiling oil, when I seriously sliced three fingers of my right hand in an electric table saw, when I .........
I'm silent, other than saying something like "I think I may need to have this seen to". My wife knows when it's serious by my non-reaction.
I don't think it's pain tolerance but rather a survival trait.


Interestingly, research into pain tolerance shows that women generally have a higher pain tolerance than men but women who've given natural childbirth, no drugs, have a f'king huge pain tolerance. Anecdotally, working with people with chronic pain, I've seen that it varies enormously between people and changes dramatically with pain experience. People who suffer from chronic pain often develop a huge tolerance.


Four years ago we moved into a new house. I carried a heavy box of books down cellar, missed a step and “sprained” my ankle. After a week of moving, carrying heavy objects, cleaning, unpacking, etc, decided to get it Checked as foot was turning funny colors. Ends up I broke my ankle in 3 places….


Sounds like me. Glad you got your foot checked out by a doctor.


Wow, nice to see that lineage of beauty…good luck with the thumb


Thank you so much. My mother was 30 years ahead of the times.

People called her an "exercise fanatic" and "health nut."
She was a great role model.


One of my nephews has full blown Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. It's a birth condition that among other things causes extreme pain tolerance. He could seriously hurt himself and never know it. When he was in grade school he got a reputation as the toughest 3rd grader around -- the other kids (even older grades) learned that they couldn't hurt him so they learned to not fight him. Not that he's ever been belligerent -- he's a good kid, but he was a boy in school.
His father caught him more than once doing dangerous things like to 'get the ball back', etc. with his brother. They had to watch him fairly closely to keep him from accidentally causing himself an accident.

We wonder how many professional athletes have it. It could be very useful to just power through situations that would debilitate most people.🙂

It also causes other effects like having different parts of the body grow at abnormal rates and hearing problems. He had surgeries as a child to correct the worst problems.

Everyone in my immediate family also has very high pain tolerances. After dealing with him, we wonder if we all don't have a little bit of the effect -- just not as severe.

Our society doesn't make any exceptions. Everyone has something. Nobody gets out alive and we all make our own ways. Ha, ha.🙂


We were taught how to in the military

bobwjr Level 10 Jan 23, 2022

Us too, we taught to be very good at tolerating pains in the arse 🤣🤣


no, but I have an extraordinary tolerance of comfort.

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