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Metal rod embedded in arm painless for fifty years 

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on PainScience.com are updated regularly over the years.

Sensation and pain are nothing if not mercurial. On the one hand, we can be driven half out of our minds by a bit of beef wedged between a couple teeth. Or, stuck right in the other hand, a large piece of metal can be painless for 50 years. Like a turn signal lever.

Art Lampitt got one of those embedded in his arm in a car accident long ago. What with all the other injuries, no one noticed. It didn’t give him any trouble until recently. His arm began to ache and swell and an x-ray revealed a strange, thin third arm bone.

“I was hoping it might be shiny still,” he said in an interview with CBC Radio One’s “As It Happens,” but it was badly corroded — perhaps the reason it finally caused some symptoms, but who knows.

I love medical marvels that challenge our preconceptions about what will hurt. It’s noteworthy that it didn’t hurt for decades — because if that’s possible, just imagine how unpredictable the symptoms of a little arthritis can be — but it’s also noteworthy that it did start to cause trouble eventually. It’s a great example how pain is weird.

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