It is a truth universally acknowledged that a 25+ year-old person in possession of a spine must be in want of an ergonomic pillow. At least, that’s what the endless Back Pain Discourse tells us.
Of course, some aches and pains can be a natural sign of ageing. “As we get older, the natural tendency is for our muscles to get smaller and lose some of their strength. Our bones also start to get weaker over time,” BUPA shared.
And other factors ― like a lack of exercise and working at home ― can cause twinges in your muscles, too. But sometimes, sore muscles can be a sign of something more serious.
So, we thought we’d share the signs experts say you shouldn’t ignore when battling the aches:
1) Your pain is worse in the morning
Morning stiffness has been specifically linked to arthritis and morning arthritis. The pain and stiffness may ease throughout the day as you move more, helping to improve your circulation and soothing inflammation.
2) It’s localised in your chest
The Mayo Clinic says “Because chest pain can be due to a serious problem, it’s important to seek immediate medical help.” Even something as seemingly harmless as heartburn can indicate heart or stomach issues, they say.
It’s especially worth reaching out to a professional if the aches are accompanied by:
Pressure, fullness, burning or tightness in the chest
Crushing or searing pain that spreads to the back, neck, jaw, shoulders, and one or both arms
Pain that lasts more than a few minutes, gets worse with activity, goes away and comes back, or varies in intensity
Shortness of breath
Dizziness, lightheadedness or weakness
Nausea or vomiting.
These may be signs of a serious heart condition.
3) Nothing makes it go away
Thankfully, most aches are transient ― one study found that 90% of those with lower back pain were relieved of the symptoms in six weeks. But if your aches keep going past the two-week mark, and if nothing is helping them to go away, consider seeing your doctor. The pains might have a more serious cause ― and if they’re accompanied by swelling, redness, and heat, they might be a sign of abscesses or infections.
4) It makes you breathless
If your pain is accompanied by shortness of breath, you may be suffering with anything from asthma to lung and heart issues. The NHS advises that you seek immediate medical help if:
Your chest feels tight or heavy
You have pain that spreads to your arms, back, neck and jaw
You feel sick or are being sick
You’re coughing up blood
You have pain or swelling in one of your legs
This could be a sign of a heart attack or problems with your lungs.
5) The pain just feels... different
If you always have a twinge in your shoulder or know you tend to ache after a workout, you may be dealing with a more regular issue. But unexplained pain that feels sharp, hot, unusually sore, or just off is worth speaking to your doctor about ― it could have a more serious cause.