When I first learned about BDSM, and then that I enjoyed pain play as a masochist, there was a moment when a Top that I had asked to play with asked me a very specific question, at least I thought it was specific at the time. “Stingy or thuddy?”

Did I prefer, sting or thud when it came to the type of pain that I enjoyed? At the time, I heartily responded sting. But now that I’ve got a few years under my belt I realized that those two phrases are pretty vague and don’t cover the wide variety of pain that you can experience in a scene depending on the type of tool used or the intensity of the tools. Sure, they cover a majority of the impact tools used, but that’s not the only way to experience pain in play, is there?

Why did we get stuck on sting and thud as the only two possibilities to describe what we like in pain play anyway? I don’t think we’ve expanded the types of play activities that much in recent years to not know of other sensations than stingy and thuddy to describe them. I mean, pain management in medical situations, there are more ways to describe what kind of pain you’re feeling, why haven’t we applied any of them?

• aching

• biting

• blunt

• burning

• cold

• comes and goes

• constant

• crushing

• cutting

• dragging

• dull

• excruciating

• frightful

• gnawing

• hot

• intense

• nagging

• nauseating

• niggling

• numb

• penetrating

• piercing

• pins and needles

• pricking

• radiating

• scratchy

• sharp

• shooting

• smarting

• sore

• spreading

• stabbing

• stinging

• tender

• throbbing

• tingling

• tiring

• unbearable

Not all of these can describe the pain we experience when we play with a partner, but a lot of them could! I’ve got a different list. It’s shorter and perhaps can help you really nail down what sort of pain you enjoy and which you’d like to avoid. So, let’s break it down a bit and really cover more than sting and thud.

Types of Pain You Could See During a BDSM Scene:

Direct, Acute - This type of pain is a sharp, intense pain. Common tools that deliver direct pain are single tail whips, cats and lightweight floggers, as well as bare-handed spanking, paddles, tawses, and belts.

Surface - Surface pain is slappy and spread out. It covers a larger area and is most often skin deep. Tools that often deliver surface pain are floggers, paddles as well as bare-handed spanking and slapping. Abrasion is also a form of surface pain and comes from scratching and scraping tools and fingernails.

Deep Tissue - Deep tissue pain is just as you might think. This impacts the muscles and inner tissues. Methods to experience deep tissue pain are kicking, punching, wrestling, and some heavy floggers.

Sustained - Sustained pain is the pain that you have to endure. It’s a pain that starts and then is maintained or slowly gets worse as your endurance is taxed. It is frequently present in suspension and rigorous bondage in the form of compression as well as things like clothespins and needles.

Joint or Muscle Pain - This is pain that is caused by fatigue or strain. Restricting bondage can cause joint and muscle pain. Suspension bondage can cause joint and muscle pain. Any time you pull your body into contortions where it’s not at rest can cause this form of pain.

Electric - This is a unique pain that you can only get when doing electrical play. Things like Tens units and violet wands can bring out this pain.

Two-Stage Pain - This is the type of pain that has either a cycle or a reverberation. Clothespins could be considered 2-stage pain inducers because you have the initial pain when they are put on, then things dull until you take them off. But the big ones for me are canes and pressure points. Canes definitely have a direct component to them, but also when given at a higher intensity you have a pain that is direct and then a secondary sharp reverberation pain as your tissues responds to the compression.

Emotional - Emotional pain is probably one of the harder ones to pinpoint and certainly not one where any form of common pain processing that we’ve talked about. Emotional pain comes from fear and suffering, from feelings of degradation and humiliation.

Nerve Pain - Nerve pain is a burning, stabbing, tingling pain. It is my personal opinion that this pain is never good pain and should be addressed ASAP when you start to experience it. Nerves can be damaged very easily if the pain is ignored and often that damage is permanent.

Why We Need More Than “Sting” and “Thud”

Since I’ve listed a few more pain descriptors than sting and thud, I think you’ll agree that we could definitely use a more specific list then just these two words. I’m going to use them more when I negotiate with others for pick up play. It will make things easier I think and we might just be on the same page a lot faster.

Thinking further about why we might want to describe something with more than sting and thud comes from personal perceptions of pain. I’ve been on the receiving end of a tool that the Top swore up and down was a thuddy tool, only to be shocked, surprised and a bit miffed when it turned out to bite, a sharp, stingy surface pain.

As we learn more about what sorts of pain we look for in a scene, and what sorts of pain processing we need to employ to process different pain, we’ll have a better understanding of what will create a playtime that we will enjoy and crave. Starting with being able to define how a tool feels, and what sort of pain it delivers is a great first step for you to build a scene that will work for you and a partner.

Ultimately, we want to play with tools and toys that cause pain, that’s what makes us a pain play enthusiast and some of us as masochists. So let’s stop using just “sting” and “thud” and get into more specific terms when we play. We’ll go further and it will build a working knowledge for how to process the sorts of pain you truly enjoy that much easier.