Healthy Living

Pain that Requires Prompt Medical Attention

Pain that Requires Prompt Medical Attention

The following are a list of different painful experiences that one must seek medical attention for:

Severe headache

“If headache is accompanied by a cold, it could be sinus headache”, says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, MACP, spokeswoman for the American College of Physicians. If the headache is severe and you are not sure of what is causing it, it is better to discuss it with your doctor to see what the viable treatment options are, if needed. Severe headaches can be caused by brain hemorrhages, tumors, and aneurysms. 

Pain or discomfort in the chest, throat, jaw, shoulder, arm, or abdomen

Chest pain can be caused by pneumonia, or a heart attack. In most cases, heart conditions present as acute discomfort, rather than pain. According to Jerome Cohen, director of preventive cardiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, never wait for the pain to start. Patients often complain about pressure on the chest region. Heart patients often feel as if an elephant is sitting on their chest, adds Cohen.

The discomfort due to heart attacks can be felt in the chest, throat, jaw, left shoulder or arm, or abdomen. This might often be accompanied by nausea. If a person has acute discomfort and are in the high risk group for heart disease, then he or she should seek immediate medical attention. Many times people with this symptom delay going to a doctor thinking that it is heartburn. According to Cohen, intermittent discomfort in the chest also should be considered serious, especially if it happens after exertion, emotional upset, or excitement.

Women have more subtle symptoms, when compared to men. Heart disease often presents itself as bloating, feeling tired, distress or discomfort in the abdomen. The risk of heart disease in women increases considerably after menopause. Even though men are at risk of this disease at any age, more women are killed by heart disease.

Pain in the lower back or between the shoulder blades

According to Brangman, who is professor and chief of geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y, pain in the lower back is mostly due to arthritis. It may also be due to heart attack or abdominal problems. A nagging or a sudden pain in the lower back of between the shoulders may indicate aortic dissection. People who have high blood pressure, history of circulation problems, smoking, and diabetes are at higher risk of the condition.

Severe abdominal pain

This is one pain that is often ignored. If the pain is due to infection of the appendix, it requires immediate attention before it bursts. Problems in the gallbladder or pancreas, stomach ulcers, and intestinal blockages are some other possible causes of abdominal pain, which needs a doctor’s attention.

Calf pain

The pain due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a vein in the leg, is a dangerous condition, which many are not aware of. ”If a piece of the clot breaks lose, it can be life threatening as it may cause pulmonary embolism”, says Fryhofer. Some of the common risk factors for this fatal condition include prolonged bed rest, cancer, obesity, pregnancy, and advanced age. Swelling and pain in the calf are two common symptoms, but in some cases, swelling may be seen without any pain. If any of these are present, one has to see the doctor immediately.

Burning feet or legs

According to American Diabetes Association, about one quarter of 27 million Americans who have diabetes are undiagnosed. Peripheral neuropathy is characterized by a burning sensation or pins-and-needles sensation in the feet or legs that indicate nerve damage.

Vague, combined, medically unexplained pains

Psychiatrist Thomas Wise, psychiatry department chairman at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, claims that various painful physical symptoms are common in depression. Many patients complain of vague headaches, abdominal pain, or limb pain, and sometimes in combination. As this pain is not very severe or debilitating, people ignore or dismiss these symptoms. The more depressed you are, the more difficultly people have when describing their feelings. People should see a doctor when they lose interest in activities, are unable to think effectively, and can’t get along with people. Depression is a disease tht has to be treated aggressively before it brings about structural changes in the brain.