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10 Pains That You Should Never Ignore, Say Doctors

Listen to your body and look out for these symptoms.

Aches and pains are a normal part of life. However, there are some types of pain that signify more than just an overworked muscle, stomach ache, or the average headache. Eat This, Not That! spoke to a few of the top medical experts across the country, who offered a short list of all the types of pain you should pay close attention to, and possibly seek medical care if you experience them. Read on for 10 pains you never want to feel, according to experts—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Sudden Head Pain

man in white casual t-shirt, holding head with both hands, suffering from severe headache

Darren P. Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Sidney Kimmel Medical College – Thomas Jefferson University, notes that "any sudden onset pain may be concerning," but particularly pain in your head. "Sudden headache can be a concern for significant pathology."  


Abdominal Pain

stomach pain

Similarly, abdominal pain can be concerning. "This could indicate significant abdominal pathology or may be just constipation," Dr. Mareiniss explains. While he does suggest getting checked out, he notes that "the devil is really in the details, so it's hard to say a specific pain is significant."


Back Pain with Fever

back view of man sitting on bed and suffering from back pain

This cocktail of symptoms is potentially dangerous, per Dr. Mareiniss. "Significant back pain with fever could be epidural abscess," he reveals.   

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Back Pain with Neurologic Symptoms

woman with back pain sitting on bed

Back pain with neurologic symptoms can signify a variety of health conditions, per Dr. Mareiniss, including urinary incontinence, urinary retention, fecal incontinence, lower extremity weakness or groin numbness could represent cord compression.  "This is a potential surgical emergency," he says. 


Chest Pain

Man having chest pain - heart attack, outdoors

Donna-Ann Thomas, MD, an anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist for Yale Medicine, division chief of both pain medicine and regional anesthesiology warns to pay close attention to chestmain. "Crushing pain to the chest that may indicate a cardiac issue," she explains.

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The Worst Headache of Your Life

woman in a couch with headache and a hand on forehead

Everyone gets a headache every now and then, but if you experience the worst headache of your life, you should get it checked out urges Dr. Thomas. "This could indicate a catastrophic brain bleed," she says. 


Right Lower Abdominal Pain

Young sick woman with hands holding pressing her crotch lower abdomen.

If you are experiencing pain in your right lower abdomen, "especially if associated with nausea and vomiting," it could indicate appendicitis, Dr. Thomas says.  

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Sudden Intense Abdominal Pain Radiating to the Back

Woman holds her belly with hands with closed eyes due to pain

If abdominal pain radiates to your back, Dr. Thomas maintains it could indicate a ruptured aorta. 


A Pop in Your Foot Paired with Sudden Sharp Pain

Woman holding her achilles tendon.

A sudden sharp pain in the foot sometimes associated with a pop, could be more than you think. "This could indicate a ruptured Achilles' tendon," states Dr. Thomas. 

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Shoulder Dislocation

Wwoman in pain lying while getting a massage from specialist

"Any dislocation is horrid until it is put back in," says Christina Allen, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, chief of Yale Medicine Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation Sports Medicine, and head team physician for Yale Athletics, who explains a dislocation usually requires a trip to the emergency room to be put back in place. From her own personal experience, a patella dislocation is also extremely painful. Surgery may be needed in some cases if a person has a recurrence of the dislocation. And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss these First Signs You Have a Serious Illness, Say Experts

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah