How Long Should You Power Through Pain Before Seeking Medical Help?

Mar 13, 2023
How Long Should You Power Through Pain Before Seeking Medical Help?
While Hollywood and locker room talk tends to glamorize gritting your teeth and powering through pain, these stories never reveal the aftermath. Ignoring pain can leave you far worse for the wear.

We tend to love those stories that glamorize fighting through pain — the gymnast who lands her vault on one leg to grab team gold or the marathon runner crawling across the finish line. While fighting through pain certainly displays a good amount of grit and determination at the moment, the reality is that you ignore pain at your peril, especially over time.

Here at Sunshine Spine and Pain Specialists, Dr. Peter Fernandez and Dr. Amanda Fernandez understand the value of early intervention regarding musculoskeletal issues. Whether you’re dealing with stubborn back pain, achy knees, or a twisted ankle, it’s important to seek prompt, professional health to preserve your future ability to move freely and without pain.

When to seek help

The title of this blog asks how long you should wait before seeking help for your pain. Our answer is quite simple — not long.

Pain is your body’s way of alerting you to a problem; this is one signal you shouldn’t ignore. The moment you feel pain somewhere — such as in your back or neck or one of your major joints — your first steps should be to take it easy and spend the next 24 hours rotating ice and heat on the area. You can also take some over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen.

If you realize some improvement in 24 hours, continue these conservative steps until the pain disappears. If the pain isn’t going away, you’re likely dealing with a longer-term issue, such as arthritis or spinal stenosis.

To put some numbers to these problems, more than 92 million people in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis or arthritis symptoms — namely joint pain and inflammation. And about 20% of adults over age 60 have spinal stenosis.

Issues like arthritis and spinal stenosis are progressive, so when you start to experience any discomfort, this is a wake-up call to take early action to slow the progression.

Through interventional and physical therapy, we can help relieve your pain and restore your ability to move freely, all while slowing the degenerative condition.

Seeking help after an injury

It’s also very important to seek help after an injury if the pain persists. If you don’t have musculoskeletal damage diagnosed and treated correctly, you can easily turn an acute injury into a long-term issue.

For example, about two million people sprain an ankle each year in the US. Of this high number, up to 70% struggle with a residual physical disability, and 20% develop chronic ankle instability. These numbers could be much lower if the initial sprain was treated promptly and properly.

We could give further examples, but the bottom line is that not seeking help for an injury can lead to much bigger problems down the road.

Early intervention can make all the difference, whether you’re dealing with an acute problem or you suspect that a degenerative issue is taking hold. Not only can we relieve your immediate discomfort, but we can also help you take steps to halt or slow the damage to preserve your pain-free mobility.

To schedule a comprehensive evaluation of your ongoing pain at our office in Sarasota, Florida, call the office or use our online booking option.