Neck pain can become a real pain in the neck by preventing you from carrying out the most basic movements, such as turning your head to look around you or lifting up your shopping bags, without feeling discomfort.
- Neck pain may be associated with compression of the nerves in the neck, which can lead to numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation in your hand and arm.
- Neck pain can also be accompanied by feelings of muscle tightness and spasms and headache.
- You may hear or feel clicking or grating when you move your head, caused by bones moving against each other or ligaments rubbing on the bone.
Neck pain is rarely a symptom of a more serious problem and can usually be relieved by taking simple steps at home. Painkillers from the pharmacy are often the best way to treat neck pain, taken orally or applied directly to the site of pain. You could also try hot or cold packs, gentle neck exercises to improve movement, and checking your posture to make sure it is not making the problem worse. However, if your neck pain is accompanied by numbness, loss of strength in your arms or hands, or shooting pain into your shoulder or arm, it is recommended that you visit your doctor. You can ask your healthcare professional for suitable exercises such as stretches and gentle movements to recover strength and flexibility. If pain continues, your doctor can order imaging tests like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Your shoulders provide the flexibility to lift and move your arms freely. So when they are in pain, you may find everyday activities like combing your hair and getting dressed difficult. Painful shoulders will also make it uncomfortable to play sports, lift heavy boxes or reaching above your head.
- You may feel shoulder pain all the time, or only when you move your shoulder, and the pain might be temporary or continue (requiring medical diagnosis and treatment).
- With tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) and bursitis (where fluid builds up in the sac of fluid that cushions the shoulder joint, called the bursa) there is usually a slow onset of discomfort and you may have difficulty sleeping on the affected shoulder.
- Frozen shoulder can cause pain, stiffness and restricted movement of the shoulder.
To relieve shoulder pain, you can use drugs that can be taken orally or applied directly to the shoulder, and which are available from your pharmacy. You may also find that heat or cold packs can help to reduce your pain. If you are experiencing intense pain or pain that worsens, it is recommended that you visit a specialist who may conduct a physical examination to look for abnormalities, swelling, deformity, tenderness or muscle weakness, as well as checking your shoulder’s range of motion and strength. Additionally, they may order imaging tests (e.g. an X-ray). In order to help you recover, your specialist can suggest gentle stretching exercises and physical therapy.
If you suffer from back pain, you may find it harder to do certain things such as going up stairs and lifting heavy objects (or objects that you used to lift with ease). You may also experience tingling and numbness. This can interrupt your daily routine and affect your quality of life.
- Back pain can be felt as muscle aches, stabbing pain, pain that radiates down your leg, and reduced flexibility or range of motion.
- You may experience back pain as a tingling or burning sensation, a dull achy feeling, or sharp pain.
- Back pain may also be felt as pain or weakness in other parts of the body including your leg, hip or the sole of your foot.
In some cases, you will not need to see a doctor about back pain because your pharmacist can advise about painkillers you can use to self-treat it. But if you are struggling to cope with the pain, or it is long lasting, then you should visit your doctor. Your doctor will examine your back and ask you questions about when you started to feel back pain, where the pain is, if it feels better or worse at certain times and whether you have had it before. Your doctor may refer you for further tests to determine the cause of your pain. Your doctor might also share advice on how to relieve the pain and may recommend pain relievers, the use of heat or ice, and light exercise such as walking.
As your hips play such a big part in keeping you mobile, hip pain can make all kinds of daily activities painful, or even impossible. Just getting out of bed, going for a walk or climbing stairs may hurt, not to mention going for a run. In severe cases, you may not be able to move or put any weight on the affected hip or leg, in which case you should see your doctor.
- Sometimes the only sign of a hip problem is pain in the knees. This is relatively common and is called referred pain.
- Hip pain may get worse with activity, for example after exercise, a long walk or a run.
- You may find that your range of motion is reduced and you can’t move your hip or leg as freely. If pain is persistent you may develop a limp.
If your hip pain is caused by muscle or tendon damage or tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), over-the-counter drugs from your pharmacist can help to reduce swelling and relieve your pain. Gentle exercise and stretching can also help to reduce pain and improve joint mobility. If your pain is severe or does not improve within seven days when treated with pain killers, you should see a doctor. You should also visit your doctor if you have fallen, your pain is getting worse or if you are feeling feverish or unwell.
Wrist pain can make it difficult to perform activities that require easy movement of your hands and wrist, such as typing or playing the piano.
- Wrist pain may stop you from carrying out basic activities such as lifting things, writing, typing, or putting weight on your hand or wrist.
- Weakness, numbness, tingling, tenderness, inflammation and problems moving wrists and hands freely can also occur in various wrist problems.
- If your wrist is injured it may appear bruised and swollen and you may have difficulties moving it.
Usually wrist pain does not require medical care and minor sprains and strains respond to ice, rest and over-the-counter pain medication such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These help reduce the inflammation and alleviate the pain. If the pain and swelling last longer than a few days or it worsens, it is recommended that you visit your doctor, who might order imaging tests (e.g. X-ray, MRI or CT scan), or a blood test to rule out underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Your doctor might also suggest wearing a splint or brace or performing exercises to strengthen the hand and wrist.
Knee pain is more common as you get older, due to years of wear and tear, if you are overweight (as this puts more stress on the joint), or if you play sports. Because your knees are vital to movement, knee pain can stop you from playing sports and make it difficult to carry out simple activities, such as walking and climbing stairs.
- Sudden pain in the knee can occur if you overuse it or injure it.
- Instability and weakness in the knee, or the feeling that your knee is about to give way, is a common knee problem.
- Other symptoms may include stiffness, popping sounds, locking of the joint and inability to straighten the knee, depending on the cause.
Depending on the cause of your knee pain, there are different ways to diagnose and treat it. You can try PRICE therapy at home, where you Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate the knee to relieve pain. You can also take over-the-counter pain killers or use topical pain relief products from your pharmacist to help relieve acute (short-term, non-serious) pain. If pain is long lasting or more severe, you should see a doctor or specialist. They may perform a physical examination to test the mobility of your joint as well as inspect for swelling, tenderness, visible bruising and warmth and recommend physical therapy and knee braces to relieve knee pain. He or she may also order imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI, ultrasound or CT scan. Additionally your doctor may suggest knee-strengthening exercises.
Foot & Ankle Pain
Most people have experienced foot and ankle pain, making it painful to carry out everyday activities like walking the dog, climbing upstairs, running for the bus and playing sports.
- Swelling, pain and stiffness can occur if the ankle joint is sprained or the joints in the toes become injured.
- Damage to the foot can cause bruising and redness, which may be painful when pressure is applied.
- Swelling and pain can make it hard to move the ankle joint freely or put weight on the foot.
Because we use our feet and ankles every day to get around, when they are painful it can be quite unbearable. Often, home remedies can help alleviate pain, such as: applying ice to reduce swelling, keeping your foot elevated and using over-the-counter pain medication to reduce pain and inflammation. However, if you have severe pain, swelling, or an open wound, you should see a doctor. It is also important to see a professional if you’re unable to put weight on your foot, making it difficult to walk, have burning pain, numbness, or are diabetic. Your doctor may perform a physical examination and suggest light exercises as well as order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI.
The Voltarol gel range contains diclofenac diethylammonium, and includes Emulgel P (for relief of non-serious arthritic conditions), Pain-Eze Emulgel and 12 Hour Emulgel P 2.32% gel. Voltarol 140 mg Medicated Plaster contains diclofenac sodium. For relief of pain and inflammation. Always read the label.