Everyone experiences pain at some time. It might be the result of an injury, operation, or pushing your body too hard. Headache, infection, arthritis, and other health problems cause pain. Unchecked, pain can rob you of the ability to sleep, work, and enjoy life. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.
We've come a long way from the days of "grin and bear it," or "no pain, no gain." Pain begets pain, so it's important to stop it early. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pain relief. Standard medications can be a good option for many pain sufferers, but a wide range of effective nondrug therapies are also available.
We're sorry you have pain!
The word "diffuse" means "widespread" and refers to pain that is more or less all over, or at least in many areas. The goal of this guide is to provide information while awaiting evaluation with your doctor, or for additional information after you have seen him or her. Please keep in mind that this guide is not intended to replace a face-to-face evaluation with your doctor. The diagnoses provided are among the most common that could explain your symptoms, but the list is not exhaustive and there are many other possibilities. In addition, more than one condition may be present at the same time. For example, a person with rheumatoid arthritis could also have tendonitis.
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Doctors know it as zoster, but up to a million Americans are stricken each year by the infection they call shingles. By either name, it's an unsightly, often painful process that can be prevented by a vaccine that was approved in 2006.
The culprit is varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella in children). The vast majority of children recover completely, but that's not the end of the story. Instead of being killed and eliminated from the body, VZV goes into hibernation, hiding out in the part of the nervous system known as the sensory nerve ganglia. In most people, the virus remains dormant and harmless for life, but in up to 15%, VZV becomes active and causes shingles.
Most patients with shingles are older than 60, and some have weakened immune systems. The virus spreads along the sensory nerve to form a line of blisters on one side of the body. Most patients recover fully, but a few develop serious complications, and up to a third develop long-lasting pain (post-herpetic neuralgia). Antiviral medicines, which are often prescribed with steroids, can reduce the risk of pain.
Some men are able to successfully treat their lower back pain with medication, but some require additional treatment such as physical therapy, steroid injections, or surgery.
Unless the person is able to tell you to the contrary, assume that anyone with a back injury also has a neck injury.
Place a board, such as a door or table leaf, next to the person. The board should extend below the buttocks (ideally to the feet) and above the head. Keeping the head aligned with the rest of the body, gently logroll the person toward you. Move the board under the person and ease him or her onto it. If the person is vomiting, lay him or her on one side and continue to support the head.
1. To make a sling, cut a piece of cloth, such as a pillowcase, about 40 inches square. Then cut or fold the square diagonally to make a triangle. Slip one end of the bandage under the arm and over the shoulder. Bring the other end of the bandage over the other shoulder, cradling the arm.
For a lower arm or wrist fracture (left), carefully place a folded newspaper, magazine, or heavy piece of clothing under the arm. Tie it in place with pieces of cloth. A lower leg or ankle fracture (right) can be splinted similarly, with a bulky garment or blanket wrapped and secured around the limb.
Broken bones (fractures) are usually not life-threatening. A fracture may not be visible to you through the skin. Symptoms include intense pain, swelling, increased pain when trying to move the injured area, or bleeding. A broken bone always requires medical attention.
Immediate careCall out for someone to get help, or call 911 yourself. Do not move or straighten the broken bone. Splinting is not necessary unless the person needs to be moved without assistance from ambulance personnel or unless the fracture has blocked blood supply to the limb. If the fracture site is deformed and the skin beyond the site of the fracture is cold, pale, and blue, pull gently lengthwise on the limb to straighten the fracture and then splint the limb.
How to Make a Sling
Sciatica's (pronounced sigh-AT-eh-ka) hallmarks are pain and numbness that radiates down the leg, often below the knee. In nine out of 10 cases, sciatica is caused by a displaced disk in the lower spine.
The best medicine is often patience — with some stoicism mixed in — because the pain often goes away, even if the problem disk does not. Researchers have found that the pain usually improves within a month. No one is quite sure why the pain subsides on its own, but it does.
But if the pain is very bad or persists, many people with sciatica must decide whether to have surgery. There are several sorts of operations, but they all involve paring back disks in some way so they don't impinge on nerve roots. And these aren't high-risk operations — complications are rare.
Do you have a history of chicken pox?
Does your skin hurt, itch, or feel numb?
Is the pain sharp, dull, or piercing? How long have you had it?
Do you have a rash? If so, for how long?
Is the rash in more than one place on your skin?
Is the rash on one side of your body only?
Has the rash at any time looked like small blisters?
Do you still have pain even if the rash is gone?
What triggers the pain (for example, a light touch)?
Do your symptoms interfere with your ability to sleep or perform activities of daily living?
Do you have any risk factors for infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?
Are you taking any medications?
Careful skin exam
Skin scraping to examine under the microscope, or for viral culture, immunofluorescence, or polymerase chain reaction testing
While it lasts, the pain from a leg cramp can be excruciating. Usually it goes away within a few minutes, though bad ones can cause lingering soreness. Typically, leg cramps affect the muscles in the calf (the large one is called the gastrocnemius) or along the sole of the foot.
The best immediate response is gently stretching the taut muscles. With the calf muscles, you can do that by grasping your toes and then slowly pulling your foot toward you. Leaning forward against a wall while keeping your heels on the ground does the same thing. Just standing up and putting weight on the affected leg may help, though you should be careful about falling: Get some help if someone is there to assist you. Heat (from a heating pad or warm - not hot - water) or massaging of the leg and foot can also help muscles relax, although it's best to try stretching first.
Here are five suggestions for preventing leg cramps before they happen: