Trick or Treat? Deciphering Your Aches and Pains

By Ryan jones, DPT, CSCS

It's that quick episode of pain that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Maybe it happened when you were actually working out. Or maybe it happened when you were just sitting at the desk. Or maybe when you were playing with the kids. Whatever it was, we've all had it: a random pain that comes at some random time. You ask yourself, what the heck was that?  

Is it a trick? Will that little, almost completely ignored pain a precursor to a significantly worse injury in your near future? Or is it a treat -- your body giving you a warning of something that needs to be addressed?

First and foremost, let me say that pain is not normal. Pain is your body's sign of distress. Any pain at any time should be taken seriously. Still, the little aches and pains that come with an active lifestyle, the normal aging process, and life in general are to be expected. It is up to you to be smart and know the difference between what I call good and bad pain.

In general, good pain refers to the mild soreness that one would expect from exercise or new activities. Also included in the "good" category are any symptoms and/or pain that come from a small injury like a rolled ankle or small bruise. As the body attempts to heal from any minor injury some amount of pain is expected as the inflammatory process takes its place. The "good" pain should resolve simply with proper rest within 24-48 hours.  

While "good" pain is more annoying than troublesome, "bad" pain is that which you would rate as moderate to severe. This is pain that lingers for longer than 48 hours despite proper rest and may seem to be worsening by the third or fourth day post-injury. Bad pain will limit your ability to complete your normal daily routine. This type of pain is more serious and you should consult your MD or PT sooner than later. Your chances of a speedy recovery are much better when you quickly address any injury or illness!

Remember, pain is nothing to Snickers at...even if your friend MaryJane says so, and even if the pain is not a Whoppers. Listen to your body (especially if you hear a Nestles Crunch or Cracker Jack or Pop Rocks!). Don't be a Goober and bite off more than you can Charleston Chew. And if you're not an Airhead, then your health will be Good N Plenty!

Happy Halloween everyone! Be Happy and Stay Healthy!