What That Pain Could Really Mean

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Kate has been experiencing sharp pain in her left thigh for a couple of weeks. She is a busy caregiver, who doesn’t feel like she has the time to go to the doctor for herself. She attributes the pain to lifting her father into his wheelchair, or possibly stress, or the aches and pains that accompany getting older.

Similar to Kate, many of us shrug off pain, make excuses for it, or ignore it altogether. Often we’re right, but sometimes our bodies are trying to tell us something.

Kate in our example was sure her thigh pain was a sign of routine wear and tear. Little did she know that it could actually be a symptom for something much more serious, such as a bone tumor.

Red Flags to Watch For

Not all aches and pains indicate the presence of disease, of course. But we need to be aware of the potential correlation between pain and illness. These are some red flags to look out for, that could indicate you need to seek medical assistance:

  • Pain between shoulder blades is common in women, as is jaw pain, shortness of breath and nausea. If you have these symptoms (you’ll likely have more than one), you need care ASAP as they could be the sign of a heart attack.
  • Headaches: Most of us have experienced mild or moderate headaches, and usually an over the counter pain medication makes the pain go away. But if you have the worst headache of your life and it comes on suddenly, call 911, as it could be bleeding in the brain due to a ruptured aneurysm. Don’t take aspirin for such a sudden, intense headache — it can increase the bleeding.
  • Chronic left- arm pain could be a sign of heart disease, says Dr. Craig Radnay, an orthopedic surgeon in New York. • Severe right-lower stomach pain could be associated with appendicitis, says Dr. Radnay.
  • Upper right-quadrant pain can indicate gall bladder disease.”
  • Lower back pain can be a sign of kidney infection or kidney stones, or a peptic ulcer.
  • Pain in the jaw muscles after exercise could be a symptom of angina, a condition in which an area of your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, triggering pain or discomfort, usually in the chest.
  • Jaw discomfort could also indicate an inflammatory vascular condition such as temporal arteritis, which affects the blood vessels that supply the head area.

Most muscle strains will heal within a few days or several weeks, Radnay says. But it’s still important to have pain evaluated — quickly if pain is severe or you feel numbness. Even if the pain is relatively mild, you should see a doctor if it lasts more than two or three weeks. Delayed diagnosis and treatment could lead to prolonged disability. So listen to your body when it tries to tell you something. And remember, if you are a caregiver, it is of utmost importance to care for yourself also. A quick trip to the physician can help ease your mind — and your pain.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain, or pain lasting more than three to six months, affects 100 million adult Americans, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. Chronic pain can be from mild to excruciating, episodic or continuous, inconvenient or incapacitating.

Chronic pain may originate with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. The most common sources of chronic pain include headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition.

Symptoms of chronic pain include:

  • Mild to severe pain that does not go away
  • Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical • Feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest
  • Weakened immune system
  • Changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress.

There is considerable evidence that unrelenting chronic pain can suppress the immune system, so it’s important to treat chronic pain as your physician suggests, and possibly via alternative therapies and treatments, including acupuncture, nutritional supplements, massage, chiropractic therapies, certain herbal therapies, and Reiki.

Reiki to Treat Chronic Pain and Other Diseases

Reiki is one of many types of energy-based healing practices. By placing hands on specific parts of your body or even just positioning hands slightly above your body, a qualified Reiki practitioner can help bring relief to your chronic pain and other diseases, and make you feel better than you have in years. In alternative medicine, Reiki is a treatment in which healing energy is channeled from the practitioner to the patient to enhance energy and reduce stress, pain, and fatigue. Reiki works by opening up a channel between healer and patient to transfer universal energy into the recipient to help “jump start” the natural healing abilities of the recipient’s own body. In other words, a Reiki practitioner helps the Reiki recipient restore the recipient’s body both physically and mentally.

Attend the Farr Law Firm Holiday Open House and Help Support Reiki for Elders

ROSE (Reiki Outreach Services for Elders) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping elders with the healing power of Reiki. ROSE serves as a bridge between volunteer Reiki practitioners and elders in senior-serving communities. Please drop by the Farr Law Firm Holiday Open House on December 10 from 2-5 where we will have a Silent Auction for the benefit of ROSE. Please click here to RSVP.

Fairfax Elder Law: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Elder Law: 540-479-1435
Rockville Elder Law: 301-519-8041
DC Elder Law: 202-587-2797

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