Most aches and pains aren’t a sign of something serious, but certain symptoms should be checked out. See a doctor if you feel any of these things:
1. Weakness in Your Arms and Legs
If you get weak or numb in your arm, leg, or face, it can be a sign of a stroke, especially if it’s on one side of your body. You could also be having a stroke if you can’t keep your balance, feel dizzy, or have trouble walking.
Get help quickly if you suddenly can’t see well, get a bad headache, feel confused, or have problems speaking or understanding. “Caught early, it is often reversible,” says internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD.
Don’t wait to see a doctor. Call 911. If you get a clot-buster drug within 4.5 hours of your first symptom, you can lower your risk of long-term disability from stroke.
2. Chest Pain
When it comes to chest pain, it’s better to be safe than sorry. “Any chest pain, especially accompanied by sweating, pressure, shortness of breath, or nausea, should be evaluated by a medical professional right away,” says Shilpi Agarwal, MD, with One Medical Group in Washington, DC.
Chest pain or pressure can be a sign of heart disease or a heart attack, particularly if you feel it during exertion or while being active. Or, chest pain may mean problems other than with your heart; for example, you have another serious condition, such as a blood clot moving into your lung, Teitelbaum says.
If your chest feels tight or heavy, and it lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back again, get help. Don’t try to tough it out.
3. Tenderness and Pain in the Back of Your Lower Leg
This can be a symptom of a blood clot in your leg. It’s called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. It can happen after you’ve been sitting for a long time, like on a long plane ride, or if you’re sick and have been in bed a long time.
If it’s a blood clot, you may feel the pain mostly when you stand or walk. You may also notice swelling. The leg is usually red and tender, and it will be larger than the other leg.
It’s normal to feel tenderness after exercise. But if you also see redness and feel heat where it’s swollen or painful, call your doctor.
Teitelbaum says you can also check for what’s called the Homans sign. “If you flex your toes upward and it hurts, that’s also suggestive of a blood clot,” he says. “But don’t rely on that. If it’s hot, red, and swollen on one side, go to the ER.” It’s important to catch a blood clot before it can break off and block your blood flow, which can lead to complications.