Top Four Body Pains You Should Never Ignore

Leg Pain

Pain, regardless if it’s from a minor wound or a serious fracture, is a signal that there’s something wrong in our system. In the Nursing world, pain is actually considered as the fifth vital sign in addition to temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart rate. We dread any idea that involves pain because more often than not, pain can be tantamount to a serious medical condition.

However, telling  which body pain is “harmless” and which requires medical attention can be quite overwhelming especially today that fatal diseases can be masked by pains associated with less severe conditions.  Pain didn’t become the “fifth vital sign” for no reason; it can lead to death if you continue to underestimate your body’s capability to alert you  about an impending health danger. Here are just four of the most important body pains that can lead to fatal conditions if necessary management will not be done:

jaw pain

1. Jaw Pain (can be accompanied by chest, abdominal, shoulder or throat pain)

What causes it?

It could be a sign of a minor tooth ache but if the pain is dull,  located at the lower left side of the jaw and changes its intensity over a span of few minutes, then you have a valid reason to call your doctor. According to Dr. Memeth Oz, this type of “referred pain” happens when nerves surrounding a failing  heart send pain signals to the spine and into the body parts near the heart like the left shoulder, arm, throat and upper chest.

When is it dangerous?

If the jaw pain is aggravated by chewing, it is very likely that your heart has nothing to do with the pain. However, when it is accompanied by other manifestations like chest discomfort (described as an “elephant sitting on one’s chest”), nausea, dizziness, ringing sensation in the ears, pain in left shoulder and arm, you must do all means to get some professional help immediately.

Women, on the other hand, experience more subtle signs like GI distress and their risk of having a heart attack increases once they reach menopausal stage. Most of these signs and symptoms that were  mentioned have been linked to an impending heart attack but most people tend to be lax and take these warning signs for granted. According to Dr. Jerome Cohen of WebMD, “Too often people delay because they misinterpret it as [heartburn] or GI distress. Call 911 or get to an emergency room or physician’s office. If it turns out to be something else, that’s great.” 

Leg Pain

2. Leg Pain

What  causes it?

Pain in your calf should not be a source of concern if it occurs after you joined a marathon for the first time. Without any warm-up exercise to condition your legs, it is more likely that the pain you got is due to a pulled muscle or accumulation of lactic acid within your calf muscles. However, in the case of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), calf pain is due to impaired blood flow to the legs brought about by a blood clot. This is a serious condition that requires serious intervention.

When is it dangerous?

DVT or deep vein thrombosis is caused by long periods of immobility and impaired blood flow to the legs. Risk factors of DVT include obesity, cancer, pregnancy and sitting for long periods of time. DVT occurs when blood clot forms in the affected calf; once it dislodges, it can travel to various organs of the body like brain, heart and lungs. Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) is one major example of DVT complication which can lead to death if proper  medical management will not be applied. Aside from pain , DVT is also manifested by warm, red and swollen calf not associated to any injury.


3. Headache

What  causes it?

If you have headache associated with colds, it’s probably sinus headache. If you have been sleepless, it’s no-brainer that your headache is caused by an obvious lack of sleep or too much stress. However, if you think that you’re having the “worst headache” of your life, there is a big possibility that brain aneurysm is on its way to kill you. Brain aneurysm happens when the blood vessels in your brain literally explode and increases the pressure within your skull. This is very  fatal in most cases especially if immediate medical attention will not be applied.

When is it dangerous?

Headaches associated with  brain aneurysm are “like an ice pick drilling your skull”. The pain is also accompanied by  nausea, blurring of vision and dizziness. If you feel the initial sign of severe headache, go straight to the ER and waste no time because more often than not, people with brain aneurysm die instantly.

abdominal pain

4. Severe Abdominal Pain

What  causes it?

Possible causes of abdominal pain are stomach upset, constipation, intestinal obstruction, peptic ulcer disease (PUD), gallstones, appendicitis or pancreatic diseases.

When is it dangerous?

Ruptured appendix is indicated by rebound tenderness in right lower portion of the abdomen. On the other hand, severe abdominal pain (usually located at upper right corner of the abdomen) not relieved by any antacid or body movements are some of the tell-tale signs that you have gallstones. The pain usually occurs about 40 minutes after eating fatty foods and can lead to certain complications like pancreatitis and ruptured gallbladder.


“4 Body Pains You Should Never Ignore”. March 20,2012

“7 Pains You Shouldn’t Ignore” by Leana Skarnulis.


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© 2012, Filipino Nurses. All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER: The accuracy of all articles contained in this website are the responsibility of their respective authors. All articles are for informational purposes only and are NOT intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The owner of this site disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on these information. If you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician. If you feel ill, please seek medical attention immediately.

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  • Joel France

    that’s scary, makes me more careful.. thanks for sharing this.

  • Boyet Tayag Presco


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  • smiley

    Nice one 🙂

  • nancy torres

    thanx for sharing it,

  • S there any medical explanation about too much burfing… Please advice . Thank you and more power Filipino nurses