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If You Suddenly Feel This Pain, You Should Call a Doctor

There is no such thing as “good pain."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If you experience sudden, unexplained pain in any part of your body, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. "People have to make a judgment call for themselves, whether they're going to go to an emergency room or make an appointment with their doctor," says Robert Hockberger, MD, chair of emergency medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. "We ask patients to rate their pain from a one to a 10. People who feel that their pain is a seven or higher – anything worse than a bad toothache – should see a doctor right away." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Back Pain

Woman Having Backache While Sitting On Sofa

Sudden, sharp pain in your upper back could be a sign of painful kidney stones. "People with kidney disease sometimes have 'pain' caused by their kidney disease," says Alan Charney, MD, a nephrologist at NYU Langone Health and clinical professor at the Department of Medicine at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. "Remarkably, though, the kidney itself has no pain receptors!"


Head Pain

man with headache holding water

Sudden pain in the head could be a sign of internal bleeding, experts warn. "A thunderclap headache (also called 'the worst headache of your life') causes sudden, intense, debilitating pain that can last for an hour or a week," says Harvard Health. "Take note of your symptoms when a headache occurs. If it's sudden and intense, like a thunderclap headache, it could signal bleeding inside the head. Seek emergency medical attention."


Abdominal Pain

mature woman experiencing stomach pain from fatty liver disease

Severe abdomen pain could be a sign of appendicitis or acute pancreatitis. "Pain in the abdomen is common and can have a number of causes, including ordinary gas," says Rahul Patwari, MD. "But sudden, intense pain that moves to the lower right of your abdomen and gets worse over a few hours could be appendicitis. You may need emergency surgery to remove your inflamed appendix before it bursts — a life-threatening situation."


Painful Urination

man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

Painful urination for men could be a sign of gonorrhea. "Pain, burning or tingling during or right after urinating can be a sign of an STD," says Dr. Patwari. "When getting treatment, men should make sure they're also screened for other STDs."


Toe Pain

Swollen feet

Toe pain could be a sign of gout, a type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood. "Gout can be extremely painful and incapacitating, but is extremely treatable in almost all patients," says Theodore R. Fields, MD, FACP. "It is most common in the big toe, and is also common in the midfoot, ankle, and knee.  It's important to identify and treat it early to avoid pain and complications. Women are not free of the risk of gout, and begin to "catch up" with men after they reach menopause." And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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