Pain as therapy

I suffer from constant and chronic pain in my lower back, both knees and hips, and sometimes in my neck. This is due to osteo-arthritis. I also have small-fiber idiopathic poly neuropathy in both feet. Makes for a fun day every day. I’ve seen more doctors than I can remember in the last 10 years and have had a dozen surgeries since 2011. My doctors have run out of ideas, they just say take more pills for the pain. Problem is, I currently have 8 prescriptions and take about 30 pills everyday for pain, gout, depression, and blood pressure.

I am also heavily tattooed, have about 150 hours worth of ink in the last 20+ years. About 3 years ago, when all this shit hit the fan, I noticed that every time I got some work done, the pain in my knees and feet went away for a couple of days. I also noticed that the longer the tattoo session, the longer the pain was gone. About 3 months ago, I sat for about 3 hours to finish an area on the back of my arm. The pain was gone for almost 4 days, I couldn’t believe it, it was fucking awesome to be pain free( except for the new ink). My doctors don’t really know why this happens, and I don’t care. I just got some work done on a smaller area that took about an hour and a half, the pain was only gone for 1 day. My tattoo artist told me that he has another client with back issues and has told him the same thing. So now I consider getting tattooed as therapy, now my wife really can’t get mad every time I go back .

Has any body else here experienced any thing like this before? Now I’m using pain as therapy for other pain.

There was a documentary I saw once - I’ll look for it…it was about bee stings. Had the same effect from what you are describing with the tattooing.

Edited to add:

Wow - it’s come a long way… lots of info on the net.

I saw this about 35 years ago…never thought about it till I read your post.

Yeah, I remember that.

I worked with a bloke riddled with rheumatoid arthritis. Meeting him on the stairs he might say “It’s going to be a good day; I can hold my coffee cup with one hand”

From what he told me, He took a bunch of medication, but his emphasis was on pain management. (There is a pain management clinic at at least one hospital here) He also I had a night job cleaning.

Please don’t think I’m implying you should do likewise, I am not. I pass this on
for information.

Just found this: The claim is that bee venom has anti inflammatory properties. I have no idea about the science on this claim. I’m very wary of ‘natural’ and alternative medicines:

"As the name implies, bee venom is an ingredient derived from bees. It’s used as a natural treatment for a variety of ailments.

Its proponents claim that it offers a wide range of medicinal properties, ranging from reducing inflammation to treating chronic illnesses. However, research in some of these areas is either lacking or conflicting."


Found these two clips, there’s an awful lot of information on this topic. There seems to be a lot of woo.

It’s kind of ironic because I have always described getting tattooed as being like one, continuous bee-sting when asked what it feels like.

From my 30 minute experience half cut, New Year’s Eve, 1969, Singapore, I can attest to that.

These days, there’s some ink which I see as fine art, but most of it is very boring as indeed are its owners.

Have never understood why people have tattoos on their neck, face, or hands.

First off Mr Macabre, that sucks, and I cannot say I understand. Only you know this terrible chronic pain. I do wish you well and hopefully some release from the pain.

But there may be something to what you relate. From

Krutak, sitting at his desk in the bowels of the National Museum of Natural History, is referring to Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old mummified “Iceman,” so named by researchers because he was discovered in the Ötztal Alps on the Italy-Austria border in September 1991. The preserved body has a total of 57 tattoos—short lines etched in groups on his lower back and ankles, a cross behind his right knee and two rings around his left wrist.

“Incredibly, approximately 80 percent of these tattoos overlap with classical Chinese acupuncture points utilized to treat rheumatism, a medical condition that plagued the Iceman. Other tattoos were found to be located on or near acupuncture meridians that may have had the purpose of relieving other ailments, like gastro-intestinal problems,”

I sympathise, I have suffered chronic back pain for about 33 years, started when I was 22. It’s not improving as I age, and now I also suffer neck and shoulder pain, I’ve broken the shoulder (clavicle) twice, and tore the bicep tendons once.

In the last few years I suffer with plantar fasciitis, sometimes I can barely walk, and have been experience lower back pain when I walk, for years. I was using prescription painkillers and anti inflammatory meds, but the side effects were debilitating. Then after 40 years of graft I had saved enough to retire this year. My wife who had lived off me for the last 20, met someone else, who presumably wasn’t in constant pain, and struggling with the side effects of medication. She left me a note, and I’ve kept the house I had before I met her, and some of my pension, she and the solicitors took the rest.

I signed a cheque on Jan 2, and later that day the VP of the company I work for announced they’d be closing the factory in May.

It never rains etc, and I work in the aviation industry, so Covid has pretty much ruined any chance I’ll be able to struggle on.

Ah well, she’s a cunt, and I’m better off on my own than with a selfish cunt…

I’ve cut the pain killers since she left, and I’ve virtually stopped taking the Naproxen anti inflammatory meds. I have to take blood pressure and cholesterol tablets, and I drink more than I should.

Could be worse…a lot worse…


I am a young man still at 35.
When I was 16 my nephew, slightly older than me, committed suicide.

This put me in a long struggle with bipolar depression. I recieved prescribed drugs and psychiatric treatment for close to 10 years. After which it was as if the bipolar disappeared.

I was well for a long time, and about 2 years ago i started getting slightly depressed when life pushed a bit harder than ussual, i still managed, but it was getting slightly worse every time. There were no manic episodes, just the depression.

What I noticed is that whenever i feel down and I get some tattoo work done, its asif I get out of that down episode and i am sure it was not about the tattoo but about the pain. Maybe that is why some people tend to hurt themselves during depression.

Early last year my mother died.
I have been back on the meds for the past 4 months, but managing much better.

Sorry, I know its a long winded, slightly off topic post.


Sorry to hear that, life just seems to get harder as we get older. Now I know why old people are always grouchy, everything hurts. I have had suicidal thoughts in the past, have been in counseling for almost 4 years now. It has helped, but those thoughts never really go away. The pain from getting tattooed helps, I look forward to my next session in about 2 months.
Hang in there.

I’m sorry to hear about your situation, that sucks. Luckily my wife has supported me through this, and is still working to support us. I’m on permanent disability(since july '15) and receive about 2/3 of the benefits if I worked until I’m 70 years old. That was the plan, but my body gave up several years too soon. I also have a hard time walking due to nerve damage in my feet, don’t want to think about how bad it will be in the future. At least you got to keep your house, we had to sell ours because we couldn’t afford to keep it. We moved in with my older sister for about 6 weeks, then moved in with our son and his family for 2 years. Pretty humbling experience after working 50-60 hours a week for 35+ years.

I know it sounds cliche’, but hang in there, life has never been fair, and never will be.
P.S. Drinking less could probably help, at least you’d have a little more money.

Thanks, I appreciate it. I don’t know why it works, and I don’t care. As long as the pain goes away even for just 2-3 days, I’ll take it.

I have my own issues, and similar to your story, was forced into an early retirement due to those medical issues. It does suck, my retirement would have been much larger in just four more years. But it is what it is, I can’t roll back time, I just have to deal with it.

And similar to you, I believe in the work ethic, and know for a fact I was a star employee when it came to productivity.

I really wish you find a salve for your pain, and hope that maybe that stuff about acupuncture points may lead to some relief. Of course, nothing is promised, it is just one item to investigate.

I don’t understand it either. All of my work is on my back, chest, and both arms from the wrist up and onto my shoulders. All it takes to hide it is a long-sleeved shirt.