When To See a Specialist About Sudden Pain

As pain management specialists at Elite Pain Management and Recovery Centers, we see both acute and chronic pain conditions at each of our locations, including at our new office in Las Vegas. And we’re asked one question all the time: When should I see a specialist about sudden pain? Here are a few guidelines we share with our patients.

Consider the severity of your symptoms

First, you should never wait to see your doctor if you have severe pain, especially if it interferes with your daily life. That’s because your body is telling you there’s something wrong. 

To determine the severity of your symptoms, think of them on a scale of 1 to 10:

  1. Barely noticeable 
  2. Present but mild
  3. Uncomfortable, but possible to ignore
  4. Frequent or constant, but they don’t interfere with activities
  5. Constant and distracting, and they do prevent some activities
  6. Constant and distressing, and they limit many activities
  7. Debilitating and unmanageable, and they prevent most activities
  8. Intense, and they make activities — including talking and listening — difficult
  9. Severe, and they make activity — even just moving — impossible
  10. Severe enough to restrict all activity

If you have pain in the lower range of the pain scale, you can probably delay a doctor visit unless it doesn’t go away. As your symptoms reach the midrange of the pain scale, you should seek medical attention.

When you have severe symptoms that impact activity, you should seek emergency care. 

Consider the cause

Developing a sudden and strange pain can always cause concern. However, knowing the cause can help determine your next steps. 

For example, if you sustain trauma to your body, the symptoms could indicate an underlying injury, such as a broken bone, which requires emergency attention. Similarly, undergoing certain medical therapies, such as cancer treatment, can also cause debilitating pain, and a specialist can help. 

We can help relieve numerous types of acute pain and chronic pain, even symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. If you have new or sudden pain, we can help identify the cause and outline a personalized treatment strategy to help you get relief.

Consider the location

Pain is a common problem, especially in certain areas, such as the back, neck, shoulder, hip, and knee. We can help if you have symptoms that affect your daily life. However, some sudden pain can indicate a serious problem. As a result, you shouldn’t ignore sudden and severe pain in these parts of your body.


Chest discomfort should always be a cause for concern, because it could be due to a heart attack. In some cases, pain from a heart attack comes on suddenly and intensely, but it can also be mild and cause minor discomfort. If you have squeezing, pressure, fullness, or pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes — or comes and goes — seek medical attention immediately.


These symptoms could indicate a variety of problems, ranging from an inflamed gallbladder or bleeding stomach ulcer to a bowel obstruction or appendicitis. Heart attacks can also trigger stomach pain.


Strains and sprains are common back problems. However, intense back pain could also indicate compression fractures or urinary tract issues, such as kidney infections or kidney stones. A heart attack can also cause pain or discomfort in the back or neck.


Severe pelvic pain that comes on suddenly can be a sign of several problems that require prompt treatment, such as intestinal blockages and diverticulitis. In women, it can also be a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.


At least half of adults worldwide have at least one headache a year, and we provide treatments for headache disorders, such as migraines. However, severe and sudden headaches can also be a warning sign of serious and life-threatening conditions, such as stroke, brain aneurysm, and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

New or sudden pain doesn’t have to derail your life. If you have questions about whether to see a specialist, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Elite Pain Management and Recovery Centers today. We have five locations, including a new location in Las Vegas.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore Whiplash

It can be easy to shrug off neck pain as a common symptom of whiplash. However, if you experience an injury from a forceful snapping of your neck, you should get medical care as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn more.

How to Live with the Chronic Pain of Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia often comes with debilitating symptoms — such as chronic pain — which can impact everyday life. There may not be a cure for this condition, but you can manage your symptoms and keep flare-ups at bay. Keep reading to learn more.

What To Do About Cancer Pain

If you have cancer, it’s very likely you also have pain. Fortunately, whether you develop symptoms from the cancer itself or your treatment, there are ways to get your pain under control. Read on to learn more.

5 Causes of Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain is a common problem, but it can develop for very different reasons. As a result, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to find effective treatment. Here are a few common offenders.

Which Therapy to Treat Cancer Pain Is Right for Me?

Whether you had cancer in the past or are currently going through treatment, it’s common to experience persistent pain. But it doesn’t have to affect your quality of life. Keep reading to learn how the right therapy can provide relief.