Pain Archive


Chest pain: Causes other than the heart

Most cases of chest pain don't signal heart problems. While chest discomfort of any kind should never be ignored, many conditions can trigger it. These include gastroesophageal reflux disease, gallstones, asthma, ulcers, anxiety, COVID, esophagus spasms, costochondritis, pulmonary embolism, pleurisy, aortic dissection, and pericarditis. Chest pain is likely to be unrelated to the heart if it's brief, triggered by eating, doesn't worsen with exercise, occurs only with movement, coughing, or breathing deeply, or it's localized to one spot.

Managing back pain

Most acute back pain happens because of weak muscles related to aging and inactivity. Symptoms usually last a few days, but pain and stiffness sometimes linger for a couple of weeks or longer. Frequent episodes can make people less active, as they are fearful about straining their back. Managing acute back pain is a two-step approach. First, treat the pain with over-the-counter remedies, cold and heat therapy, and rest, and then strengthen the back muscles and improve flexibility to prevent recurrent back pain episodes.

Winter activity workarounds for hands that hurt

Hand arthritis makes it tough to do winter activities, such as preparing holiday feasts, shoveling snow, wrapping presents, or using walking or ski poles. It helps to plan out activities, break them up when possible, take lots of breaks, use tools to make the jobs easier, and enlist help if needed. For example, consider asking family and friends to assist with holiday meal prep, or hire a service to remove snow.

Surprising causes of neck pain

Neck pain is often the result of strained neck muscles that become irritated from everyday activities. Examples include watching TV for hours at a time, sleeping without enough neck support, slouching, looking down at a smartphone for long periods, lifting heavy dumbbells, or getting stressed out. Ways to avoid such neck pain include using pillows to better support the neck on a couch or in bed, sitting up straighter, keeping electronic screens at eye level, lifting weights that aren't too heavy, and practicing stress management.

Time for a new knee? Ask these questions first

It's important to ask many questions before getting a knee replacement. Suggestions include asking about a surgeon's background, the type of prosthetic that will be used, the surgical approach the doctor will take, how to prepare physically before surgery, how to prepare one's home for recovery, how long the hospital stay will last, how much pain the knee replacement will cause, what rehabilitation after surgery will entail, how long recovery will last, how long it will be until one can resume activity, and how long the new knee will last.

The pain gap

Chronic pain is more common in women, who cope with conditions such as arthritis, migraine headaches, lupus, and fibromyalgia at higher rates than men do. Some research suggests the hormone estrogen could contribute to the disparity. Women should feel free to seek a second opinion or referral to a pain specialist if the current plan is not working. They should also be receptive to different treatment approaches, seek support, and make lifestyle changes that can help them manage pain, such as getting adequate sleep and exercising.

Gout Diagnosis

If you experience gout symptoms, it's important to visit a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Causes of gout

There are three main causes of high levels of uric acid that can lead to gout.

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