Why you might not feel pain until you notice a cut

Monday October 28 2013

Why you might not feel pain until you notice a cut

Some people might not feel pain from a needle prick. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa.  

By Albert Tumwine

When a person gets injured, the immediate feeling should be that of pain. However, there are times when, for instance you sustain a cut, but you do not feel pain until you see the actual spot of the injury.

Medical experts say while such a scenario is considered normal for the most part, it could also be triggered by other factors.

Pre-existing conditions
Dr Dean Ahimbisibwe, a general medical practitioner in Kampala, explains that getting injured and not feeling pain is common among people with diseases that weaken the nerves.

“When a person gets injured, they are supposed to feel pain unless they have ailments that weaken their nerves. For instance, people with diabetes have a condition called diabetic neurosis, which paralyses the nerves, and makes it hard for them to feel pain. They can even step on sharp objects like a nail with bare feet, and still not feel pain,” Dr Ahimbisibwe explains.

He adds: “People with leprosy may also experience pain, long after being injured because the disease causes nerve damages, although this is a rare case.”

But, if a person does not have any of these ailments, Dr Ahimbisibwe says, their condition could be due to particular activities that the engage in.


“When someone is preoccupied with a particular activity and they get hurt, they do not feel immediate pain because their mind is concentrating on the activity and no attention is given to the injured part,” he says. “This though, applies to minor injuries unless there is an element of fear attached to the source of pain,” he adds.

Dr Ahimbisibwe, however, notes that a severe injury such as a bullet wound may sometimes not be felt immediately, due to the fear associated with the gun.

“When someone is shot at, he or she definitely feels pain but the shock and fear associated with the gun sometimes overwhelms the pain and someone might run away in fear and feel the pain only when they have been notified, or have seen the wound much later,” he explains.

This, says Dr Ahimbisibwe, also applies to cases such as accidents, when a person is travelling.

The instant occurrence of the accident causes shock to the body, and makes it hard for a person to feel pain until they have actually seen the injury.

In some cases, Dr Ahimbisibwe notes that people who do not feel instant pain after they have been injured, could have a problem with their sense of pain.

He, therefore, recommends that such people should go for tests to make sure they are not suffering from a more severe health condition.