Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.
No pain is considered “normal,” and living with pain can impact your health in body, mind and spirit. After all, it’s challenging to live your best life if you’re silently suffering. Some people think pain is just a normal part of aging, but you don’t have to accept pain as part of your life. You can get help to safely treat and manage it.
Here are the most common sources of pain with some tips on how to find the relief you need.
Back pain can be caused by a strain, sprain, or injury that affects ligaments or muscles around the spine. Other common causes include arthritis, disk problems, or fractures of the spine’s vertebrae. But some back pain has its root in more commonplace problems, such as being overweight, experiencing a long period of inactivity, or being stressed.
Back pain usually gets better on its own, but if your pain lasts for more than three months, talk with your primary care doctor. He or she can recommend treatment options which may include physical therapy, exercise and medications if necessary.
Your neck contains vertebrae, ligaments, joints, tendons, nerves, and muscles— all of which can be a possible source of pain. Neck pain is often caused by muscle strain or tension, usually from overuse like sitting at a computer. Going too hard during exercise or sleeping in a weird position can also strain your neck muscles. Accidents or falls, including car accidents, are also common causes of neck pain.
Work with your primary care doctor to manage neck pain. He or she may recommend neck stretches, ice massages, heat pads, over the counter pain medications, muscle relaxants or massage therapy.
If neck pain becomes chronic and severe, a referral to a specialist may help you get more answers and specific treatment.
What we call the shoulder joint is actually three bones, which combine with tendons and muscles to allow for a wide range of motion. But shoulders can also be unstable, leaving them open to many types of injury and pain.
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, it may be caused by one of the following issues:
- Tendon inflammation, which include tendinitis, bursitis, or tears
- Dislocation, which happens when the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket
- Arthritis, which can develop slowly as a cause of wear and tear
- A broken bone, which can affect any of the shoulder’s many bones
Three common causes of hip pain are osteoarthritis, tendinitis and bursitis. They all have different causes and treatments, and it is best to talk with your doctor when you can’t manage the pain on your own.
- Osteoarthritis: This condition causes deteriorating cartilage, resulting in pain typically felt in the hip joint, inner thigh, groin, or buttocks.
- Tendinitis: This tissue inflammation may cause pain and swelling just outside your hip joint.
- Bursitis: This inflammation of the sacs of fluid that cushion your tendons can cause burning or pain on the side of your hip.
Other Joint or Bone Pain
Sometimes experiencing pain in your joints or bones can mean you have a more serious condition that affects your body. These include:
- Osteoarthritis: This degenerative disease becomes more common with age and usually develops in the hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. It can be treated with everything from drugs to creams to joint replacement surgery.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This autoimmune disease causes pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced movement. It often develops in middle age and is most common among older adults, but teenagers and young adults can get it, too. Talk with your doctor about treatment options.
- Paget’s disease: This disease causes bones to grow too large and weak, and to break more easily. It is more common in older adults. If Paget’s disease runs in your family, doctors recommend you have routine lab work to screen for the disease starting at age 40.
- Bone cancer: Primary bone cancer is uncommon, but cancers from organs like the breast or prostate gland can spread to the bones and can be a cause of bone pain.