How do you know when the pain you’re feeling is normal, or if it is time to seek medical attention? In most cases, the pain in your chest is just heartburn, but other times it is your body telling you something just isn’t quite right. September is Pain Awareness Month, and the staff at Greene County Medical Center would like to educate you and your loved ones on body pains that could, in fact, be warning signs of something much more severe.
Severe Head Pain
The majority of headaches or migraines that many individuals experience are minor and can be treated with an over-the-counter pain reliever. However, some head pain is a signal to a more pressing and dangerous medical issue such as a brain aneurysm. Contact your primary provider immediately if the head pain you experience:
- Is severe and develops suddenly
- Is progressive over the course of the day and lingers for several days
- Worsens after a recent respiratory infection or a sore throat
- Develops after a recent head injury or fall
A burst aneurysm occurs quickly and can cause severe brain damage within minutes. If you feel that this could be happening to you, call 911 immediately.
There are many possible causes of chest pain. It can be tied to heart-related issues, digestive problems, muscle and bone trouble, or lung-related complications, all of which warrant medical attention. Many people who experience chest pain have a tendency to write it off as a simpler diagnosis, such as heartburn or sore muscles. Unfortunately, these symptoms are leading indicators of more serious problems such as a heart attack or collapsed lung. In addition to general chest pain, there are other various symptoms associated with a heart attack or collapsed lung:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain radiating to the jaw or arms
- Lingering pain that lasts longer than a few minutes
- Vomiting or nausea
- Cold sweats
Heart attacks vary from person to person, however, if you feel that you may be experiencing heart attack symptoms, call 911 right away.
For many of us it is common to feel gassy, bloated, or experience some abdominal pain from time to time. In most situations, abdominal pain is short-lived and does not require medical attention. However, in longer, more severe circumstances, seeking medical attention is necessary. Conditions that may cause generalized abdominal pain include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Intestinal obstruction
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Urinary tract infection
If abdominal pain continues, contact your primary care provider.
Those experiencing pelvic pain feel pain in the lowest part of their abdomen and pelvis. Pelvic pain can either be constant or intermittent, sharp or dull and range from mild to severe. Both men and women alike can experience pelvic pain. However, women often experience pelvic pain more often due to digestive, urinary or reproductive issues. Pelvic pain could be caused by:
- Ovarian cancer
- Ovarian cysts
- Colon cancer
- Chronic constipation
- Crohn's disease
- Kidney stones
If you experience pelvic pain suddenly, it could be a medical emergency, and you should seek assistance immediately.
Did you know back pain is the most common type of pain for adults in the United States? For some, the pain is just an annoyance, but for others it can be severe. Many of the causes surrounding back pain stem from muscle injury, strains or sprains, poor posture or obesity. In most circumstances, back pain should get better within a few weeks. However, if you become extremely uncomfortable, seeing your health care provider is important. Common causes of back pain include:
- Muscle strains
- Herniated disk
- Kidney infection
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal fractures
In some situations, you may need emergency help if you experience severe back pain along with one of the following: fever, bowel or bladder issues, a bad fall or a sports injury.
Leg pain can be gradual or come on strong, develop throughout your leg or remain in one area, everyone experiences leg pain differently. Most leg pain is the result of wear and tear. However, leg pain may also be caused by poor circulation or blood clots. Common causes of leg pain include:
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Achilles tendinitis
- ACL injury
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Stress fractures
- Sprains and strains
- Spinal stenosis
If you are unable to walk or put weight on your leg; have swelling, pain or warmth in your calf; or experience a serious leg injury, seek medical help immediately.
Are You Experiencing Pain Longer Than Normal?
It can be difficult to know when the pain you’re feeling is ordinary or if it is a sign of something more serious. If you or a loved one are experiencing pain that is lingering or seems unusual, Greene County Medical Center’s has several services that can help:
- UnityPoint Clinic providers
- West Central Orthopedics
- 21st Century Rehab
- Care Management services
- Visiting specialists
Schedule an appointment today for a better tomorrow!