What you should know about body and head pains.
What is your typical reaction when you experience an ache or pain in your body? If you dismiss it, then you’re part of the 50 per cent of Singaporeans who choose to keep silent about their physical pains. That’s according to the results of the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index study conducted by GSK Consumer Healthcare.
But when exactly should you see a doctor regarding any unpleasant physical sensations? Pain specialist from Mount Elizabeth Hospital Dr Yeo Sow Nam weighs in on common instances of pain.
Headaches are usually caused by stress, a lack of sleep, poor posture, or diet changes.
If your headaches occur mostly at work, taking regular breaks to stretch your neck might help.
Take suitable over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol, to relieve your headaches. If that doesn’t work, or your headaches get progressively worse or frequent, see your General Practioner.
2. Stomach pain
The most common type of stomach pain is a tummy ache, which is usually caused by overeating foods that cause gas. Make dietary changes and eat in moderation to reduce the occurrence of tummy aches. If these changes don’t help, then you should consult a specialist.
However, if you experience severe stomach pain or pain that comes suddenly, seek medical advice immediately.
3. Menstrual cramps
Pain caused by the menstrual cycle consists of the following symptoms:
- Throbbing or cramping pain in your lower abdomen that may be intense
- Dull, constant ache
- Pain that radiates to your lower back and thighs
- Loose stools
However, if you experience the below symptoms, there is a possibility that you may have pelvic pain, a more severe kind of pain that causes abdominal discomfort which may require medical attention. Here are some types of pelvic pain:
- Pelvic pain that may expand to your lower back and thighs
- Pelvic pain shortly before or after your period
- Pelvic pain during intercourse
- Bowel pain
- Nausea, vomiting or breast tenderness
- Heaviness in your abdomen
- Pressure on your bladder that increases urination or difficulty urinating
If suitable over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol, are unable to reduce period pain, Sudden, severe or unbearable abdominal/pelvic pain or pain followed by fever or vomiting, seek medical help.
4. Back pain
If you have back pain for a few days, try taking pain relievers and resting. Alternatively, go for massages as they can ease muscular tension and help in back pain relief.
But if it lasts for weeks, always consult your doctor and seek proper medical attention. Having an assessment done by a specialist might also provide a combination of solutions such as therapies, altering your posture, lifestyle and exercise or providing suitable painkillers.
5. Chest pain
If you experience chest pain that radiates to your left arm or chest, it is crucial that you seek medical attention immediately.
The following symptoms indicate that your chest pain is related to a heart attack or heart condition:
- Pressure or tightness of chest
- Crushing or searing pain that expands to back, neck, jaw, shoulders and arms
- Pain lasting more than a few minutes and worsens
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats
- Nausea or vomiting.
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, you should call for emergency help immediately.
6. Neck pain
Neck pain is often attributed to pain in its soft tissue hence causing muscle strain. However, there are also other possible causes of neck pain:
- Bone or joint abnormalities
- Poor posture
- Degenerative diseases
If your neck pain persists for several days, seek help from your general practitioner.
7. Calf pain
Your calf pain is often the result of a sore muscle. However, if you do face the following symptoms, do visit a General Practitioner immediately because chances are that you have deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious condition where a clot forms in a vein that runs deep inside a leg or arm :
- Pain or tender legs – this is especially so in the calf, where it is often persistent
- The pain is persistent, worsens with time in an arm or leg
- The skin of the affected ligament turns reddish or blue and feels warmer
If your pain is persistent, disabling or progressive despite treatment, ask your General Practitioner to refer you to a pain specialist.
Factors that might cause of deep-vein thrombosis are listed below:
- Chronic immobility (e.g. long flights)
- Use of steroids
Dr. Yeo advises that while pain is unpleasant, it is important as it’s your body’s way of telling you that something is not right and that you need to take extra care and manage or prevent it. The 2017 GSK Global Pain Index shows that pain affects a person’s emotional state, relationships with family and friends, quality of life and even workplace productivity.