How to Recognize a Pain Emergency

  • Pain is the number one reason why people visit the emergency room. But when you’re living with pain all the time, it is hard to know what constitutes an emergency because you’re always in pain. You don’t want to be an alarmist and you don’t want to go to the emergency room unless it’s entirely necessary.


    If your pain has changed in some way, you might start to worry. Your pain might be more intense or in a different location. But these changes can happen all the time depending on your activities, the weather or other stressors. So, a change in your pain might not be enough to be considered a true alarm because pain is not directly associated with damage. In those with chronic pain, the flare-ups of pain are often times false alarms. What are some other ways to detect a pain emergency without relying on a faulty alarm system?

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    Your body has other reliable indicators that something is wrong. One indicator is body temperature. Fevers, chills, night sweats are all worrisome signs that something else is going on and needs to be checked out. Your body’s temperature is closely linked to the immune system that serves as your protective shield against intruders. Sometimes the immune system also triggers swelling, redness and warmth in an immediate area that is experiencing problems. Pay attention to these other signals from your body because they might be more reliable and accurate than pain as a way to signal danger.


    Over a period of time, your body weight might be another way to detect when something life-threatening is happening to you. Your appetite might be decreased or your metabolism might be increased. Either way, unexplained weight loss should be concerning enough to see a doctor especially if you are also experiencing a change in your pain.


    Another way to detect a true pain emergency is by noticing a sudden change in other body functions. For example, sudden changes in your bowel or bladder habits can indicate that there is a spinal cord problem. Additionally, sudden changes in your speech or ability to think might be another cause for a real alarm. Pay attention to all of your body functions because true pain emergencies often cause more than just pain.


    Hopefully, you can avoid the emergency room altogether by taking good care of yourself and keeping regular appointments with your doctor for check-ups. But when emergencies happen, it is good to know what to watch out for besides pain. In the midst of chronic pain, pain is not always the most accurate signal from the brain.

Published On: November 06, 2012