AABP Integrative Pain Care

How Long Should You Power Through Pain Before Seeking Medical Help?

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If you’re in pain, it can be hard to know when to power through and when it’s time to call the doctor. Keep reading to get our pain management experts’ take about pain, when to live with it, and when it’s time to seek help.

Everyone experiences pain differently, and each person may feel different types of pain over the course of their lifetime. That’s because pain is actually a signal put out by the nervous system that lets you know when something isn’t quite right.

How you experience pain depends on the way your brain interprets it. This makes it challenging to know when pain is normal and when it’s a sign that you need medical attention. 

At AABP Integrative Pain Care with offices in White Plains and Brooklyn, New York, our pain management experts specialize in diagnosing and treating many types of pain stemming from a wide variety of conditions. 

Keep reading to learn how to identify the pain you can power through and live with and when it’s time to schedule a medical appointment. 

Understanding types of pain

People generally experience acute pain or chronic pain. Acute pain starts suddenly and may feel intense. However, it doesn’t last long and usually appears in one specific area or part of your body. 

Acute pain most often results due to a specific injury or illness, including:

  • Activity or exertion (e.g., muscle soreness)
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Burns, cuts, or other wounds

When pain continues for weeks, months, or even years, doctors diagnose it as chronic pain. This type of pain may begin as acute pain, but if the underlying cause doesn’t heal or receive proper treatment, or if the root cause isn’t known, you may develop chronic pain. 

People develop chronic pain for many reasons, and scientists still aren’t sure why some people have chronic pain while others don’t. Some of the conditions most commonly associated with chronic pain include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Depression and other mental health issues
  • Migraine and headache
  • Previous injuries

People with physical issues in their back or nerves are also more likely to develop chronic pain. 

Signs it’s okay to power through pain

Many times, pain results after physical exertions. This is because your muscles develop tiny microtears after physical activity that lead to stronger muscle tissues as they repair. However, these small wounds cause mild inflammation in your muscles or tendons that create achiness or soreness. 

If you experience this type of pain, chances are good you can safely push through the discomfort. Staying physically active and moving or stretching may even help ease your pain, as they increase blood flow and help reduce inflammation. If this triggers more pain, however, be sure to back off and rest.  

Signs your pain could be a medical emergency

On the other end of the spectrum, some types of pain could signal a medical emergency. For example, if you have pain, tightness, or pressure in your chest, you could be having a heart attack. Sudden and severe belly pain with a fever or swelling could be a sign of a serious infection.  

If you experience significant pain (a level 7 or higher on a 1-10 pain scale), this is a sign you should seek urgent medical care. If you have chest pain, discomfort, or pressure with other signs of a heart attack, like fainting, shortness of breath, or numbness, go to your nearest emergency room.  

You should also seek urgent medical attention if you sustain an injury that causes crunching or popping noises, significant swelling or bruising, or if you can’t support your weight. Sports injuries that come with dizziness, fever, or difficulty breathing also make immediate medical attention necessary. 

Signs it’s time to see a pain specialist

Your AABP Integrative Pain Care specialist evaluates your medical history, current symptoms and pain history, overall health, and goals to create a customized pain management plan for you.  

When thinking about whether it’s time to see a pain specialist for your pain, think about the source of your pain, how severe it is, how long you’ve experienced this pain, and how much your pain affects your daily life. 

Signs it’s time to have your pain evaluated by an expert at AABP Integrative Pain Care include:

  • Pain in a place with a previous injury
  • Pain in a place treated by past surgery
  • Pain that increases or becomes constant
  • Pain that affects your ability to sleep, work, or carry out your daily routine
  • Pain that affects your mobility or affects the use of a body part(s)
  • Sharp/severe pain with movement or exercise
  • Pain that radiates or travels away from the starting point

You should also see a pain specialist if you have pain that continues to last longer than expected after surgery or other medical treatments. 

If you’re ready to stop living with pain and reclaim your quality of life, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with a pain specialist at AABP Integrative Pain Care in White Plains or Brooklyn, New York.