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Pain Quiz: What 's Up With Everyday Aches?

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Some people say they feel pain in their hair.

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Some people say they feel pain in their hair.

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If you’ve ever had your hair in a tight ponytail for too long, you can understand how some people believe they’re feeling pain in their hair. That sensation comes from nerve endings in the skin that contains your hair follicles, the tiny pockets in your scalp where hair originates. Pain or discomfort in the skin of the scalp or hair is called trichodynia. 


A number of people with hair loss say their hair hurts, which adds to their anxiety. Researchers have found that trichodynia is associated with depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts or behaviors.

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Pain is always a sign that something is wrong.

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Pain is always a sign that something is wrong.

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Pain is your brain’s way of interpreting information about a particular sensation, and everyone feels and tolerates pain differently. Although pain can serve as a warning system by telling you to take your hand off a hot plate or to go to the ER, pain isn’t always a reason for alarm. The burn in your muscles after a new or strenuous workout can be an example of "good pain."

Redheads may be more sensitive to pain than people with other hair colors.

Redheads may be more sensitive to pain than people with other hair colors.

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Women with natural red hair sometimes need more anesthesia than dark-haired women. A mutation in a gene that affects hair color may be to blame. Researchers believe this increased pain sensitivity may make many redheads more anxious about going to the dentist. Men and women with red hair are twice as likely to avoid dental care as people with dark hair, according to a study in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The most common painful condition is:

The most common painful condition is:

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If you’ve ever been told to lift with your legs and not with your back when picking up something heavy, there’s good reason. Eight out of 10 people will have some kind of back pain, and Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on back pain relief. Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 and is the second-leading medical reason -- the common cold is No. 1 -- for missing work and visiting a doctor.

Growing pains are real.

Growing pains are real.

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Doctors think about 20% of children aged 2 to 12 have mild to severe pain in their legs at night. Although these pains are commonly called “growing pains,” that's a little misleading since growth itself doesn’t hurt. The leg pain could be a sign of overused muscles. Some children who have these pains might be more sensitive to pain.

Weather changes can trigger pain for people with:

Weather changes can trigger pain for people with:

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Some people who have migraines say that changes in the weather can bring on their headaches, but the exact weather patterns that precede the headaches remain unclear. A Tufts University study found that arthritis pain increased with every 10-degree drop in temperature and that increasing barometric pressure was also a pain trigger. People with asthma can have attacks after storms because rain causes pollen grains to break into smaller pieces, which are easier to inhale.

Women have a higher threshold for pain.

Women have a higher threshold for pain.

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So much for the belief that women have a higher threshold for pain because they evolved to endure childbirth. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers examined more than 160,000 pain scores for more than 72,000 adult patients and found that women reported more intense pain in many disease categories, including acute sinusitis. Researchers can’t say for certain, however, whether men and women actually feel pain differently.

The difference between chronic pain and acute pain is:

The difference between chronic pain and acute pain is:

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Chronic pain lasts for months -- even years -- while pain signals keep firing in the nervous system. Fibromyalgia and endometriosis are examples of chronic pain conditions. Chronic pain affects more American adults than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined. Acute pain usually comes on abruptly and can last momentarily or up several months.

Exercise can help reduce pain over time.

Exercise can help reduce pain over time.

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During exercise, the body releases pleasure chemicals called endorphins, which help with the stress and depression that can come with pain. Regular cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercises strengthen the heart, lungs, bones, and muscles, and exercise can help protect older people against falls and bone fractures. Walking, swimming, and other water-based exercises can help ease arthritis pain.

 

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Icing a sprain: 

Icing a sprain: 

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Ice packs numb the skin, decrease pain and spasms, and reduce swelling and inflammation. Don't use ice on open wounds or burned or blistered skin. Apply an ice pack to the area of the sprain for about 20 minutes, several times a day, for the first two days.

If you have arthritis, you have:

If you have arthritis, you have:

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Arthritis is a general term for a group of conditions that include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints. Joint problems caused by arthritis can cause pain, inflammation, and damage to cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's tissues. Some forms of arthritis can occur as early as infancy; others affect young adults.

Positive thinking about pain: 

Positive thinking about pain: 

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Thinking positively can do more than make you feel happier -- it can be an important part of managing chronic pain. Researchers found that what people think can affect their pain. People who expect less pain may feel less pain. Intense feelings of love can also provide pain relief similar to the effects of painkillers, according to a Stanford study.

Medications frequently recommended or prescribed for pain control include:

Medications frequently recommended or prescribed for pain control include:

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Your medicine cabinet probably contains acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Available without a prescription, these medications control minor to moderate pain. Opioid analgesics, also known as narcotics, work by blocking pain messages in the body.

 

Some medications originally used to treat conditions other than pain can be prescribed for specific pain problems -- for example some medicines such as beta-blockers, certain antidepressants, and anticonvulsants can be used to help prevent migraines.

If you have back pain, you should sleep on a firm mattress.

If you have back pain, you should sleep on a firm mattress.

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Although it’s long been believed that a firm mattress is better for people with low back pain, there isn’t much evidence to support that. People who said they had back pain while lying in bed or getting up had less pain sleeping on medium-firm mattresses than they did sleeping on firmer ones. The medium-firm mattresses may put less pressure on the shoulders and hips, allowing for a more natural sleeping position, often in the fetal position.

A toothache can be a symptom of:

A toothache can be a symptom of:

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Your sinuses are the air chambers behind your cheekbones, forehead, and around and behind your nose. They contain mucus. Tiny hairs called cilia sweep mucus out of your sinuses so it can drain out of your nose. When your sinus lining becomes inflamed, it’s called sinusitis.


Symptoms of sinusitis include pain or pressure on the forehead and around your cheeks and nose. Jaw and tooth pain can also be symptoms. A recent cold, or nasal allergies that don’t go away, can raise your risk of sinusitis. So can using nasal sprays too much, swimming, diving, or smoking.

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