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8 body pains you should not ignore

Last updated on: October 28, 2009 12:56 IST

No one wants it, yet it's the body's way of getting your attention when something is wrong. There is pain that is tolerable and that you can work through, perhaps the result of moving furniture a day or two before, and then there is body pain that you need to sit up and listen to. A person should know that minor pains that are constant could be a sign of something serious. Millions of people out there don't always stop to listen to what their body is saying and end up suffering adverse consequences later.

Learning the difference, and especially knowing which more common pains you need to be on guard for, will ensure that you will not regret having missed the signs when you develop a more complicated condition later on.

Here are the pains you mustn't ignore:

1. Worst and occasional headache

It may be a sign of brain tumour or brain haemorrhage which require an immediate medical attention. If the headache is accompanied by a cold, it might be a sign for a sinus headache. In either case, it's always better to get it checked out. You're also advised to check your thyroid.

Perhaps most people get headaches at some point in their lives, so this is not a definite sign of brain tumours. You should mention it to your doctors if the headaches are: different from those you ever had before, are accompanied by nausea/vomiting, are made worse by bending over or straining when going to the bathroom.

2. Pain or discomfort in the chest

Pain or discomfort in the chest may be a sign of a heart attack or pneumonia. Many people with chest pain fear a heart attack. However, there are many possible causes of chest pain. Some causes are mildly inconvenient (such as heartburn, reflux, GERD etc), while other causes are serious, even life-threatening. Take note that heart conditions are typically linked to discomfort in the chest, but not pain. The discomfort associated with heart disease could also be in the upper chest, throat, jaw, left shoulder or arm, or abdomen and might be accompanied by nausea.

Too often people delay because they misinterpret it as heartburn or GI distress. Because of the risk of a heart attack, seek emergency professional medical attention immediately for any type of chest pain or chest tightness.

3. Pain between shoulder blades or in lower back

Although pain between the shoulder blades may signal that there is something wrong with the tissues, joints, ligaments or muscles around and within the shoulder region, it is not however always the case. Pain between shoulder blades or in lower back may indicate severe medical problems or conditions in the other organs of the body. It may be a sign of arthritis, heart attack or abdominal problems. Gallbladder disease may also manifest in the form of pain between shoulder blades or under the right shoulder blade. This may oftentimes be accompanied by vomiting. It may also be caused by liver cancer and oesophageal cancer (cancer in the oesophagus) due to an abnormal growth of cells.

4. Severe abdominal pain

Abdominal pain is pain that you feel anywhere between your chest and groin. Abdominal pain causes can range from extremely severe life-threatening conditions (such as acute appendicitis, abdominal aneurysm), to various less serious conditions (such as heartburn, reflux, gastroenteritis etc). Any symptom of abdominal pain needs prompt professional medical advice.

Severe abdominal pain may be a sign of intestinal blockages, stomach ulcers or pancreas and gallbladder problems. Intense attacks in your abdominal part, turning your face very pale, accompanied by vomiting, sweating and nausea could be due to stones in the gallbladder.

5. Repeated back pain

Repeated back pain may be a sign of a spine problem, internal organ problems, or a preliminary sign of slip disc.

6. Calf pain

Calf muscles are located at the back of lower leg. Calf pain is generally self-induced and is caused due to too much of exercise or lack of following proper methodology in exercise, especially related to stretching. However, sudden calf pain can be a sign of arterial insufficiency. This means that the arteries can't supply the calf with enough blood. Sometimes, this means you may have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which needs close monitoring and sometimes medication.

One of the lesser known dangers is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that can occur in the leg's deep veins. It can be very serious if the clot breaks away from the calf and travels elsewhere causing pulmonary embolism (a clot in the lungs), which could be fatal. Sometimes there's just swelling without pain. If you have swelling and pain in your calf muscles, see a doctor immediately.

7. Burning sensation in feet/legs

A burning foot may be mild and local and easily treatable or it may indicate a more serious general medical problem that needs further investigation. In some cases, the problem may be so painful that it interferes with a person's sleep.

Burning feet can occur simply because of mechanical overload at the end of a long day, especially in those who are on their feet all day or are overweight. Infections, such as athlete's foot or fungal infection, also can cause burning feet. These problems can be easily remedied. But burning feet can also be a preliminary sign of peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), perhaps due to diabetes or exposure to toxins. In these cases, burning feet require prompt medical attention.

8. Painful urination

Painful urination (dysuria) describes any pain, discomfort, or burning sensation during urination, usually felt in the urethra (the urinary outlet of bladder) or perineum (the area surrounding genitals). It is most often caused by an infection somewhere in the urinary tract, especially in women. In men, urethritis and prostate conditions are more frequent causes of painful urination. The location of pain or burning during urination is important to distinguish urethral pain from bladder pain or kidney pain.

The pain and the blood in your urine are also symptoms of bladder cancer, the fourth most common cancer in men. There's a 90 percent chance of fixing it if this disease is caught early.

The aches and pains are not the only problems that a person should notice. Experts also advise to never ignore petty things like fatigue or shortness of breath. Every time you encounter an abnormality in your health, talk to your doctor immediately.


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Tags: GERD, DVT