Seizure sensations can vary greatly depending on the type of seizure and the person. Most people do not feel pain while the seizure is taking place because they are often unconscious or have reduced awareness.

Sometimes, pain does occur during a seizure, and medical professionals refer to this as ictal pain.

This article examines whether seizures hurt, the causes of pain after a seizure, and other side effects.

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Most of the time, a person having a seizure does not feel pain because they often lose consciousness or have an altered state of awareness.

However, on rare occasions when pain does occur during the seizure, health professionals call it ictal pain.

The pain a person experiences can vary greatly depending on the part of the brain involved in the seizure.

A person may experience:

  • paresthesia, a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation
  • thermal sensations, or feeling hot or cold in a body part
  • feel burning or stabbing sensations, but this is rare

The location of the pain also varies and can affect any part of the body. A person may feel pain in the abdomen, head, or certain limbs. It is possible to experience the pain in multiple locations simultaneously.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a seizure.

Experts are not entirely sure why some people have painful seizures.

However, they think it may be due to disturbed activity in the somatosensory cortex. This is an area of the brain that deals with processing sensations. Seizures in this area may cause the brain to replicate painful sensations.

People have also reported pain during seizures that involve the temporal lobe. The temporal lobe is a section of the brain that helps process memories, sound, and vision.

Learn more about the brain.

Experiencing pain during a seizure is rare. It is more likely a person will experience pain after a seizure.

This pain may result from the side effects of a seizure. This means a person may feel the pain when the seizure ends and they regain consciousness.

There are many reasons a person may experience pain after they have a seizure.

Falls or injuries

During a seizure, especially a generalized or tonic-clonic seizure, a person might lose control of their muscles and fall, leading to injuries.

These injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or even fractures, can cause pain after the seizure.

Muscle contractions

Seizures often involve intense and uncontrollable muscle contractions. These contractions can be forceful and prolonged, leading to muscle soreness similar to after intense exercise.

Some people describe this soreness as a generalized body ache. These aches can be quite significant, especially after a strong or long seizure.


Headaches are a common postictal (post-seizure) symptom.

Experts don’t completely understand the reasons for these headaches but think they might be related to several factors:

  • Brain activity: The abnormal electrical activity in the brain during a seizure might lead to changes in blood flow or brain chemistry, which can trigger a headache.
  • Tension and stress: The stress, anxiety, and physical tension from muscle contractions that can accompany a seizure may contribute to headaches.
  • Dehydration or hypoxia: Seizures can sometimes lead to dehydration or reduced oxygen to the brain (hypoxia), both of which can trigger headaches.
  • Medication effects: Some antiepileptic drugs can also have side effects that include headaches.

Learn about some potential seizure triggers.

Seizures can have a range of side effects other than pain. These vary based on the type of seizure, its duration, and individual factors.

Common side effects include:

Learn more about the stages of a seizure and recovery.

While pain is not a common feature of a seizure, some people may experience it.

However, most commonly, pain occurs as a side effect after a seizure due to injuries, headache, or muscle contractions.

Epilepsy resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on epilepsy and seizures.

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