Pain can strike when we least expect it. An awkward movement when playing with the kids or lifting heavy shopping bags out of the car boot can result in a grimace of agony.
But unlike chronic pain, everyday pain (known as acute pain), such as a headache or toothache, is fleeting and with the right rest and treatment you should be back to feeling yourself in no time.
Did you know that back pain is one of the main causes of absence from work in the UK? But it may not come as a surprise, given that our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are often to blame.
Sitting for long periods of time at the computer or at the wheel of a car actually increases the pressure on your back muscles. Meanwhile, poor posture when sitting at a desk can compound the issue.
You can help prevent discomfort by ensuring that you stand up and walk around frequently. You can also try using a back support on your office chair.
When back pain hits, the temptation may be to lie down to relieve it. In fact, it’s important to keep moving to prevent it from seizing up. Moderate exercise and gentle stretches can help it to heal, while yoga and Pilates can strengthen your back to aid recovery.
For relief, hot or cold packs may help take the edge off and help you go about your everyday tasks. If you prefer something topical, you could try ibuprofen gel.
Migraines and headaches
We all recognise that throbbing ‘lightning bolt’ when we feel a headache coming on. But severe headaches, known as migraines, can be debilitating, causing the sufferer to become sensitive to light and sound. Migraines may make them feel nauseous and can even cause vomiting.
Strong emotions, such as stress, anxiety, worry or depression, can bring on a migraine. And foods, such as alcohol, caffeine and dark chocolate may also be triggers.
Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen at the first stages of pain can be effective, but if it gets worse, many people who suffer with migraines find it helpful to sleep or lay in a darkened room.
Your GP can also prescribe anti-sickness tablets and painkillers specifically designed for migraines called triptans, which work by contracting the blood vessels around the brain. Other complementary therapies may also be suitable.
Toothache is a result of two types of pain. The first is dental decay of the tooth, which can cause swelling and severe pain. Or it could be a problem with the gum which causes infection or pain, such as an abscess, receding gums or an ulcer.
If you visit your dentist regularly, you will help reduce your chances of a surprise toothache. But sometimes, even despite your best efforts, you might experience a cracked tooth or broken filling.
Until you can see your dentist, try taking paracetamol or ibuprofen*, or topical oral solutions, such as clove oil, which has a mild anaesthetic and antiseptic effect.
Sprains and strains
Taking regular exercise is really important to keep us fit and healthy, but injuries, such as a sprained ankle or knee, can be a common and unfortunate downside of staying active.
If you’re injured you might experience sore muscles, joint pain and difficulty putting your weight on the injury. Remembering the acronym RICE can help to treat all of the above complaints.
Rest the injury, ice the area to reduce swelling and pain, then compress it with a bandage to reduce the swelling. Finally, elevate it above your heart level while applying ice.
Pain relief gels such as ibuprofen1 applied directly to the area can also help you get back on your feet and in the gym in no time.
This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding you or your family’s health.