UAE: Doctors urge residents to monitor mild pains before they become major injuries

Individuals that are physically active tend to ignore mild pain, considering it a normal part of exercise or sports


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 18 May 2024, 6:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 May 2024, 3:16 PM

Shreekumar, a 38-year-old businessman in Dubai, recently experienced a sharp pain in his right shoulder while playing volleyball. He, however, didn't stop the game. "While I was smashing the ball, I twisted my shoulder. I could move and play, but there was a sharp pain."

Thinking it would be a minor injury, he applied an ice pack after the game and took over-the-counter pain medication. "Initially I experienced mild swelling and applied ice, took ibuprofen, and rested for two days. Two days later, I began feeling pain in my back and right arm, so I continued self-medicating for pain relief,” said Shreekumar.

Over the next month, his shoulder and arm pain worsened. He experienced pain even when he's just holding something, or doing something as simple as eating or drinking tea. He also noticed that once he's rested for quite some time, his back and arm pain became persistent, making it difficult for him to sit for long periods at work, as well as perform daily activities.

Finally, after persistent symptoms, he consulted his family doctor who advised him to do necessary tests, revealing an injury in his rotator cuff. “I was very relaxed in the beginning and did not take care of my injury properly. I did not miss my games, and it led to a bigger problem.” said Shreekumar.

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Why you shouldn't ignore mild pain

According to doctors, ignoring mild pain is a widespread phenomenon. Individuals that are physically active tend to ignore mild pain, considering it a normal part of exercise or sports.

“One study found that 60 per cent of runners have run with pain at some point in their lives. Another study found that 20 per cent of recreational athletes experienced pain in the last three months,” said Dr Mohamad Awad, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Dr Rami Hamed Centre.

“People ignore mild pain because of the desire to stay in shape or achieve a training goal coupled with the belief that pain is a normal part of training,” added Dr Awad.

According to Dr Radjah Farhi, specialist orthopaedic at Zulekha Hospital Dubai, ignoring mild pain can worsen the condition. It can lead to prolonged or chronic pain and increased risk of severe injuries. It can also lead to the development of compensatory movement patterns that strain other parts of the body.

“Mild joint pain from physical activities may lead to more serious conditions if left untreated. Progression of mild joint pain can start as slight discomfort but can escalate to chronic pain or significant injury if not addressed,” said Dr Farhi.

Dr Farhi further said that potential serious conditions include:

  • Tendonitis, bursitis, or stress fractures
  • Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis
  • Muscle imbalances and joint instability

Immediate treatments:

  • Avoid strenuous use of the body part.
  • Do not delay a visit to the doctor
  • Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE)

“Long term treatments include healthy diet, paying attention to the amount of water you drink, paying attention to foot deformities. Eliminate other risk factors, such as: weight loss, stretching exercises and staying active,” said Dr Awad.

“Surgery may be conducted in severe cases, such as significant ligament tears or advanced arthritis,” said Dr Farhi.

Developing into a serious condition

According to Dr Farhi, our body gives warning signs when a situation may develop into something serious. She urges residents to keep an eye out for these signs.

“Warning signs such as persistent or increasing pain, swelling that does not subside, reduced range of motion or stiffness, weakness or instability in the affected area, and pain that interferes with daily activities or sleep,” said Dr Farhi.

Preventive measures

Doctors say that proper warm-up and cool-down routines are essential in any physical activity. “One should practice regular strength and flexibility training, using appropriate equipment and footwear, listening to the body and resting when needed and maintaining a balanced diet to support joint health."

"Regular check-ups with a healthcare professional for early detection and management of potential issues are all essential. These practices help prevent injuries and promote overall well-being,” said Dr Awad.


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