Pain – What’s it all about?
Pain is very common.
Toothache, headaches (including cluster headaches and migraine), period pain (dysmenorrhoea), joint and muscle pain, sprains and strains, frozen shoulder, fibromyalgia, sciatica, slipped disc, ear ache (otitis media), wounds, bruises and other injuries are common conditions giving rise to pain.
Causes and who suffers?
Pain is an unpleasant sensation and an emotional experience. It stems from activation of the nervous system and can be linked to tissue damage.
The sensation of pain is a warning which allows the body to react.
Pain is described in different ways, including stabbing, aching, throbbing, stinging, sore.
People respond to pain differently. Some people appear to have a high tolerance for pain whilst others have a lower tolerance. It is highly subjective.
Always seek medical attention with pain including pain which is a result of a minor injury or accident, especially when there is a risk of bleeding or broken bones or when the injury is to the head. If pain is disrupting your life, work or sleep, contact your doctor.
Seek immediate medical help for pain in the chest which may signal a heart attack or thrombosis; throbbing or cramping pain in the leg (particularly calf or thigh) which could indicate deep vein thrombosis (DVT); a very severe headache, which could indicate a brain bleed (haemorrhage) or any sharp internal pain which could for example be a ruptured appendix or an acute gall bladder issue.
With headaches, always seek medical help if the headache is in a child under 12 years of age, a headache associated with clumsiness, unsteadiness, visual disturbances or vomiting, severe headache across the back of head or neck, frequent and persistent headaches of any type, a headache associated with injury, headache that is worse in the morning then improves.
A fever is a temporary increase in body temperature and is often a sign of an illness. Fever can affect children and adults.
A high temperature is usually considered to be 38 degrees Centigrade and above. You may have a high temperature if you feel hot and shivery (chilled) and sweaty (although these symptoms can occur if your temperature is below 38 degrees Centigrade). Your forehead, chest and back may feel hotter than usual.
You can check your or your child’s temperature with a thermometer if you have one. Make sure you use an appropriate thermometer and use it correctly to get an accurate reading. See: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/accidents-first-aid-and-treatments/how-do-i-take-someones-temperature/
Pain is sometimes linked with a high temperature (a fever). Some painful conditions such as headache may be symptoms of other illnesses. Painful conditions such as toothache or earache may also be associated with fever.
Always speak to a healthcare professional such as your GP or pharmacist on all mild to moderate pain and fever needs as well as talking to healthcare professionals with regards to OTC medications relating to pain. Always read the label.
Mild to moderate pain and/or fever can usually be treated at home with over the counter painkillers (analgesics). The three main OTC medications for pain are paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. Aspirin should not be used for children under the age of 16 years. These medications are sometimes combined with other ingredients in one product. Always read the label.