Aches and Pains

Aches and Pains



Commonly seen as signs of aging, aches, and pains often are not indicative of a more significant, more severe problem. In some cases, however, they may serve as symptoms of diseases or disorders that require medical attention. Knowing the potential causes of aches and pains can make it possible to see whether they are normal or a sign of something else.


The Cause

Aches and pains commonly occur as the result of vigorous activity or exercise. They may be caused by strains, exertion, or injury to a muscle, joint, or bone. When this is the case, and the symptoms are mild, they should subside on their own within a few days, and they usually can be managed with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Achiness can also be associated with colds or cases of the flu.

As people age, aches and pain often serve as the telltale signs of arthritis, a condition that occurs when the cartilage that acts as a cushion between joints begins to deteriorate. When the cartilage breaks down, there is little or no protection between the ends of the bones that form joints. When the bones rub together, individuals commonly experience pain. Aches and pains associated with arthritis are typically worse during physical activity or when there are changes in the weather. Doctors can easily diagnose arthritis and prescribe medications if necessary. In severe cases, joint replacement may also be an option.


The Diagnosis

General aches and pains can also be symptoms of other health conditions. Some of the most common include gout, fibromyalgia, and osteoporosis. Treating the pain associated with this diseases most often requires addressing the underlying condition. When the condition is managed through medication or another form of treatment, the pain typically subsides or becomes more manageable. Pain that comes in the form of chronic headaches could be a sign of neurological disorders, or in rare cases, a brain tumor.

Doctors utilize numerous methods in diagnosing the cause of aches and pains. The first step involves obtaining the patient's medical history and performing a physical examination. If this does not reveal the source of a patient's discomfort, additional tests may be performed based upon the existing symptoms. Diagnostic imaging procedures such as CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and X-rays are commonly used to detect problems. Other tests may include laboratory tests or endoscopic procedures to pinpoint the cause of a patient's pain. In limited cases, exploratory surgery may be required.

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