The 7 Most Painful Places to Get a Tattoo

Getting a tattoo can be incredibly painful, especially on certain parts of the body. But which areas are the most grimace-inducing? We asked tattoo artists to pick.

Mishka, an artist at London-based tattoo and piercing shop Shall Adore, notes "pain is a subjective experience and everyone will experience and deal with it differently."

"Your mindset coming into a tattoo and being internally ready for discomfort is very important," she told Newsweek.

"Then there are other factors such as the length of the session, no matter where on the body you get tattooed, after a few hours the whole area is swollen and eventually wiping the skin with a towel becomes as painful as the tattooing.

"Also the machines used, how 'heavy-handed' the artist is, fine-line work, stipple shading or dot work tends to be less painful than bold thick lines and solid color packing, or even heavy black work."

For Ailin Gorzelany, an artist at the same tattoo studio, everybody has "a different pain tolerance."

"I have painful areas tattooed because I've always wanted to be fully covered, I love how it looks, although I suck at pain and hate every minute of it the end result is totally worth it."

Below, we've highlighted the areas tattoo artists consider the most painful to be tattooed.

1. Elbow

Burns The Dragon Ellbow
Burns The Dragon shows the results of his elbow tattoo Burns The Dragon

Tattoo enthusiast Burns The Dragon said via Facebook the Elbow is the most painful place to get inked.

He said: "I have undertaken many body modifications and tattoos including a Guinness world record attempt including a 51 hour long tattoo session.

"Tattoos, all things considered, are not in my opinion one of the more painful body modifications I have had. That being said there were certainly some spots that hurt more than others.

"The Elbows come to mind. I have never hit my threshold faster than when I hit my elbow. If I had to choose the most painful so far I would say there.

This is corroborated by Gorzelany, who said: "People usually struggle with areas like the elbow."

2. Wrist

wrist tattoo
Along with the feet and ankles, the wrist's lack of fat accounts for the position's notorious pain when tattooed. shaddhu/Getty Images

Along with the feet and ankles, the wrist's lack of fat accounts for the position's notorious pain when tattooed.

There is also a considerable amount of nerve endings on the inside of the wrist, which can only increase the pain.

3. Spine

Spine tattoo
The spine is incredibly sensitive, making tattoos in this area are all the more painful @mishkatattoo

The spine is incredibly sensitive, making tattoos in this area are all the more painful because the vertebrae are very close to the skin.

However, what makes spine tattoo pain worse is the nerves that run up and down your entire spinal cord.

4. Head

The head is thought to be specifically painful because of the lack of fat and abundance of nerves in this region.

And the noise and vibration are also thought to contribute to the annoyance.

This is also thought to be amplified by a psychological pain barrier when receiving a tattoo in this most prominent of areas.

5. Hands and Fingers

Fingers
Receiving a tattoo on either hands and fingers is considered painful for several reasons @mishkatattoo

Receiving a tattoo on either hands and fingers is considered painful for several reasons.

The skin in this area particularly is thin and therefore all the more sensitive, fingers are bony and filled with ligaments, and, as the ink doesn't stick to this area of skin very well, meaning the tattoo artist will require to repeat the design more than once.

6. Rib Cage

Ribcage tattoo
The ribcage is reportedly a painful position to get a tattoo because it is lacking fat, muscle, or skin @mishkatattoo

The rib cage is reportedly a painful position to get a tattoo because it is lacking fat, muscle, or skin, meaning the recipient feels the ribcage's scratching all the more.

The heightened pain is additionally attributed to the central nervous system, as the nerves surrounding the ribs' proximity to the surface of the skin.

7. Knee

Knee tattoo pain is reportedly excruciating. On the front, the sensation is similar to that of an elbow tattoo, as the skin is thin and right on top of bone.

Regardless of whether the recipient decides the outer or inner kneecap area, the experience will be agonizing, while at the back of the knee, the skin is soft and full of nerves, making it a sensitive area.

However, anywhere in the area above the ankle and below the knee is a good place to get a tattoo, especially if you opt for the side of your calf muscle, away from the shin bone, as this location is lacking in nerve endings.