4 Body Pains You Should Never Ignore & When to See the Doctor

Pain can serve as a red flag, a sign that something might be wrong.

Perhaps you experienced a sharp shooting sensation that you can't explain, or a dull ache that never quite goes away. These types of pains can be clues to your overall well-being. Even if you've had blood work or other forms of testing done that indicated you're in the clear, your body may be trying to tell you something is wrong. To help you prevent potentially life-threatening situations, Dr. Oz reveals the four body pains you should never ignore.

Jaw Pain: Can Signal a Heart Attack

A dull, vague pain on the lower left side of your jaw should never be ignored. This pain increases and decreases over the course of a few minutes. In addition, it moves around so you can't quite pinpoint exactly where it bothers you. Known as “referred pain," this sensation occurs when the nerves surrounding the heart become agitated, sending pain through the nerves in the spine to other locations in the body, specifically the left jaw, shoulder, and arm.

Dr. Oz's When to Worry Scale can help you understand the difference between benign jaw pain such as TMJ, a sinus infection, or a toothache, and serious jaw pain associated with a heart attack.

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

If moving your jaw around (such as while chewing) increases the pain, it's likely the discomfort has nothing to do with your heart.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

Jaw pain that happens in the morning can be an instance of referred pain and serves as a warning sign that you're at risk for a heart attack. Your blood is thicker at this time of the day, which causes blood pressure to surge, increasing heart attack risk.

Red Zone: The Highest Risk

Pain brought on by physical activity can manifest in several areas including the chest, jaw, left arm and shoulder, a scenario that typically indicates you're having a heart attack. Shortness of breath, a common heart attack symptom in women, may also occur. You may also get additional classic heart attack signs such as dizziness or nausea. In this case, see a doctor immediately.

Leg Pain: Can Signal Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This type of pain starts deep inside the calf and feels like an ache or a cramp similar to a charley horse. The leg area may become swollen and red with the sudden appearance of varicose veins.

Leg pain like this can be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which occurs when a blood clot forms inside a vein. This situation can become life-threatening when a clot gets loose and travels through the bloodstream, causing an embolism that can get stuck in the brain, heart, lungs, or other areas.

When to Worry Scale
Leg Pain Chart

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

You've been active or moving and have calf discomfort accompanied by swollen ankles. This combination is usually not a cause for concern and is most likely caused by a pulled muscle.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

You've been sedentary, perhaps traveling and sitting in a confined position. In these situations, make sure you maintain healthy leg circulation by getting up every once in a while and moving around or simply moving your legs while seated.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

If your leg gets red and warm, call your doctor, who may order an ultrasound. The simple noninvasive test that will determine what's going on. If your leg pain is later followed by shortness of breath, chest pain while breathing, coughing up blood or rapid pulse, you could be experiencing a pulminary embolism (the clot traveled to the lung). You should go to the emergency room immediately.

Abdominal Pain: Can Signal Gallstones

Abdominal or stomach pain can be a sign of gallstones, a condition that affects one in four women in the United States. The most common symptom of gallstone pain occurs in the upper right side of the belly above the rib cage. This pain can be sharp and can spread to the back or below the shoulder blade. It usually does not go away when you're moving around.

Gallstones do not often cause symptoms unless they're blocking a cystic duct or a common bile duct. Serious complications such as a ruptured gallbladder or pancreatitis can occur.

When to Worry Scale

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

If abdominal pain is relieved with antacids or after you urinate or have a bowel movement, it is most likely just stomach upset.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

If moving around or changing your position doesn't help relieve the pain, it could indicate a blockage.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

Abdominal pain that occurs within 20-30 minutes every time you eat fatty food could signal gallstones. Keep a log and seek help from a doctor if your pain is severe.

Pins and Needles: Can Signal Nerve Injury

Pins and needles, or tingling pain, is a common symptom of impaired circulation, such as when your foot “falls asleep." It can also indicate that you've compressed or damaged a nerve (such as hitting your funny bone). In addition to a tingling or electrical feeling, it may feel like burning or numbness.

When to Worry Scale

Green Zone: Lowest Risk

The tingling goes away within a few minutes after you move your body, which increases blood flow to the area.

Yellow Zone: Medium Risk

Pain persists for several days. With this type of trauma, nerves around blood vessels, bones and muscles may be traumatized and take a little longer to recover.

Red Zone: Highest Risk

If you have tingling accompanied by muscle weakness, it could indicate a serious neurological condition and should be checked out by your doctor.

Here's Dr. Oz's Mom's Regimen for Fighting Her Alzheimer's

Here are the tools she uses to help manage the progression of the disease.

Personal photos courtesy of Dr.Oz

When Dr. Oz found out in September 2019 that his mom, Suna, then 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he was gutted. He wondered how he missed the signs and what he could do next. Like so many caregivers, he had to recognize that his mom was not going to get better. But he also knew that he wasn't alone: There is an Alzheimer's diagnosis every 65 seconds.

Dr. Oz immediately contacted his friends and colleagues and crafted a treatment plan with two of the country's top experts in the field: Richard S. Isaacson, MD, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the founder of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic, and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard and the founder of the "Alzheimer's Genome Project," who co-discovered the first Alzheimer's gene.

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