7 Pains You Shouldn't Ignore
Experts describe the types of pain that require prompt medical attention.
No. 2: Pain or Discomfort in the Chest, Throat, Jaw, Shoulder, Arm, or Abdomen continued...
He tells WebMD that intermittent discomfort should be taken seriously as
well. "There might be a pattern, such as discomfort related to excitement,
emotional upset, or exertion. For example, if you experience it when you're
gardening, but it goes away when you sit down, that's angina. It's usually worse in cold or hot
"A woman's discomfort signs can be more subtle," says Cohen, who is director
of preventive cardiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "Heart disease can masquerade as
GI symptoms, such as bloating, GI distress, or
discomfort in the abdomen. It's also associated with feeling tired. Risk for
heart disease increases dramatically after menopause. It kills more women than men even
though men are at higher risk at any age. Women and their physicians need to be
on their toes."
No. 3: Pain in Lower Back or Between Shoulder Blades
"Most often it's arthritis," says Brangman, who is professor and chief of
geriatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. Other
possibilities include a heart attack or abdominal problems. "One danger is
aortic dissection, which can appear as either a nagging or sudden pain. People
who are at risk have conditions that can change the integrity of the vessel
wall. These would include high blood pressure, a history of circulation
problems, smoking, and diabetes."
No. 4: Severe Abdominal Pain
Still have your appendix? Don't flirt with the possibility of a rupture.
Gallbladder and pancreas problems, stomach ulcers, and intestinal blockages are some other
possible causes of abdominal pain that need attention.
No 5: Calf Pain
One of the lesser known dangers is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot
that can occur in the leg's deep veins. It affects 2 million Americans a year,
and it can be life-threatening. "The danger is that a piece of the clot could
break loose and cause pulmonary embolism
[a clot in the lungs], which could be fatal," says Fryhofer. Cancer, obesity,
immobility due to prolonged bed rest or long-distance travel, pregnancy,
and advanced age are among the risk factors.
"Sometimes there's just swelling without pain," says Brangman. "If you have
swelling and pain in your calf muscles, see a doctor immediately."