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<7 Pains You Should Never Ignore ⁄ >




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Most of the time, it's good that the little Vince Lombardi sitting on our shoulder tells us to shut up and play through the pain, otherwise we'd never get anything done. On the other hand, there are a few instances in which we can actually talk ourselves out of existence.
That's what happened to NBC reporter David Bloom. While covering the war in Iraq from his specially outfitted armored vehicle, he began to feel pain behind his knee. He reportedly sought out medical advice by satellite phone, decided not to follow the advice -- "Go to a doctor" -- popped a few aspirin, and kept right on going. Three days later, Bloom died of a pulmonary embolism caused by deep-vein thrombosis. He was 39.
The ache that Bloom blew off is one of seven pains that no man should ever ignore. And no, this isn't negotiable.

1. Sudden Groin Pain
Not as severe as a shot to the crotch, but pretty close. Sometimes accompanied by swelling.
The condition: Odds are it's something called testicular torsion. Normally, a man's testicles are attached to his body in two ways: by the spermatic cords, which run into the abdomen, and by fleshy anchors near the scrotum. But sometimes, in a relatively common congenital defect, these anchors are missing. This allows one of the spermatic cords to get twisted, which cuts off the flow of blood to the testicle. "If you catch it in 4 to 6 hours, you can usually save the testicle," says Jon Pryor, M.D., a urologist with the University of Minnesota. "But after 12 to 24 hours, you'll probably lose it." Another possible cause of the pain in your pants: an infection of the epididymis, your sperm-storage facility.
The diagnostics: A physical examination, possibly followed by an ultrasound. Antibiotics can stifle an infection. And if your testicles are doing the twist?
A surgeon will straighten the cord, then construct artificial anchors with a few stitches near the scrotum.

2. Severe Back Pain
Similar to the kind of agony you'd expect if you'd just tried to clean-and-jerk an armoire. The usual remedies -- heat, rest, OTC painkillers -- offer no relief.
The condition: "If it's not related to exercise, sudden severe back pain can be the sign of an aneurysm," says Sigfried Kra, M.D., an associate professor at the Yale school of medicine. Particularly troubling is the abdominal aneurysm, a dangerous weakening of the aorta just above the kidneys. But don't worry; eventually, the pain subsides -- right after your body's main artery bursts. A less threatening possibility: You have a kidney stone. More pain, but you'll only wish you were dead.
The diagnostics: A CT scan using intravenous radiopaque dye does the best job of revealing the size and shape of an aneurysm. Once its dimensions are determined, it'll be treated with blood-pressure medication or surgery to implant a synthetic graft.

3. Persistent Foot or Shin Pain
A nagging pain in the top of your foot or the front of your shin that's worse when you exercise, but present even at rest. It's impervious to ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
The condition: It's probably a stress fracture. Bones, like all the other tissues in your body, are continually regenerating themselves. "But if you're training so hard that the bone doesn't get a chance to heal itself, a stress fracture can develop," explains Andrew Feldman, M.D., the team physician for the New York Rangers. Eventually, the bone can be permanently weakened.
The diagnostics: Radioactive dye reveals the fracture in the x-ray, and you'll be told to stop all running until the crack heals. Worst case, you'll be in a cast for a few weeks.



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