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If you have been experiencing aches and pains, it is important to know if you need to be concerned and perhaps seek medical help. The following guidelines can help you decide if your pain may require a visit your physician for a checkup.

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Has your pain lasted longer than two weeks?

Any pain that lasts for more than two weeks should be checked out. Many aches and pains come from bones, joints, and nerves – your musculoskeletal structure. These aches and pains generally resolve themselves within a two-week period. Waiting two weeks is unlikely to change the prognosis if something serious is wrong.

Have you recently suffered acute trauma?

An exception to waiting two weeks is if you have had acute trauma such as a fall or car accident. Trauma may cause either immediate or delayed pain. However, if you suspect your aches and pains are related to acute trauma, it is better to be safe than sorry. Seek an evaluation by a physician. Your doctor may prescribe imaging tests such as x-rays or scans in addition to a physical evaluation.

Are the aches and pains the worst you have ever experienced?

If your pain is extremely severe, so much so that it can be described as the worst pain you have ever experienced, seek the evaluation of a medical professional immediately. Some of the physical problems that may cause acute pain are strokes, heart attacks, appendicitis, or an aneurysm (ruptured blood vessel). In addition, let you doctor know if the pain is new and has not been experienced previously.

Is the pain preventing sleep or waking you in the middle of the night?

If your pain prevents sleep or awakens you in the middle of the night, your pain may have a serious cause. Usually, pain improves when you rest. Cancer pain is one that often does not improve with rest and awakens people at night. However, do not jump to conclusions. Musculoskeletal pain can also affect pain, because if you lie on the sore portion of your body, pressure can cause pain. Your doctor can identify the cause of you pain and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Are there some aches and pains that should always be taken seriously?

There are some body aches and pains to which you should pay particular attention.

  • Lower back pain – If you have not experienced the pain previously, pay attention, as it may indicate kidney trouble.
  • Severe abdominal pain – Pain in the upper right abdomen can indicate gall bladder problems or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Left untreated, pancreatitis can lead to severe breathing problems, malnutrition, diabetes, kidney failure, and pancreatic cancer. Abdominal pain may also indicate problems with the kidney, uterus, lungs and/or liver while pain in the lower abdomen may be a symptom of an inflamed appendix.
  • Unexplained aches and pains all over the body – If you experience a dull, constant ache all over your body or on both sides of your body, accompanied by mood and memory issues, fatigue, and feeling excessively sleepy, you may have fibromyalgia.
  • Jaw pain – Pain on the lower left side of your jaw can be a sign of heart stress and precede a heart attack. It can also indicate you have had a heart attack of which you are not aware.

If you do not know what is causing your aches and pains, if they come on suddenly, are severe, or prevent sleep and awaken you in the night, seek medical care. Communicate clearly the nature of your pain and follow your doctor’s advice. A pain free life is possible.

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