A Few Words of Wisdom

Aches and Pains

Back and Neck Pains

Thousands of people have back and neck pain, but usually there's no problem with the spine and medical treatment is not needed. Occasionally, back and neck pain can be due to a serious problem, so visit your doctor if you have any of the signs listed below.

Signs and Symptoms

Non-serious back and neck pain can cause any of the following symptoms:

  • •  Pain in one spot of the upper or lower back, often worse when you bend or cough
  • •  Pain spreading down the back of the thigh to the ankle (sciatica)
  • •  A stiff or painful neck. If you are upset or have pain somewhere else, the back or neck pain may feel worse.


  • •  Keep active. A strong back is less likely to get damaged by normal day to day activities.
  • •  Change your position every so often it you have to stand, sit or stoop for a long time.
  • •  Sleep on a firm mattress.
  • •  Lift correctly , crouch down, and then straighten your knees, while keeping your back straight- If your job involves heavy lifting, ask for proper training.
  • •  Keep to a healthy weight

Dental Pain and Tooth Care

Teeth can last a lifetime and problems can be avoided by following simple preventive measures.

Signs and Symptoms

  • •  Bleeding and tender gums
  • •  A constant ache or pain affecting one or few teeth.
  • •  Sensitivity to hot, cold or acid food.
  • •  Soreness when you press the tooth.


Help avoid problems by:
  • •  Brushing teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a small, soft-to-medium textured brush and change it at least every 3 months.
  • •  Avoiding sugar-sweetened food and drinks between meals.
  • •  Having a dental check-up at least once a year.

Children should have their first dental check up as soon as possible. Parents should begin brushing their children's teeth as they appear and should keep doing this until the child is at least 7 years old and can brush alone. For more information, contact the British Dental Health Foundation's Word of Mouth helpline on 0645 551188.

Headache and Migraine

Headaches are very common and most have no serious cause. Occasionally, headaches are due to a serious illness, so it is important to know when to go to your doctor. Most headaches soon pass, and are easily treated with simple painkillers.

Signs and Symptoms

'Headache' describes a number of different pains. Other symptoms may also be present, including:

  • •  Neck pain, spreading over the top of the head
  • •  Pain in one spot or on one side of the head
  • •  Pain behind the eyes or at the front of the head
  • •  Nausea and vomiting (with bad headache)
  • •  Sight may be affected


Because headaches have different causes, there are many different ways to prevent them.
  • •  Take time out to relax if you feel tense
  • •  See your dentist if you think you have a problem with your teeth
  • •  Don't drink too much alcohol. After taking alcohol, drink at least two large glasses of water before going to bed and the same again in the morning.
  • •  Eat regular meals, including a good breakfast
  • •  Get enough sleep
  • •  Make sure you have enough fresh air, especially if there is an open or gas fire (poorly maintained gas appliances can cause carbon monoxide poisoning)

Muscle and Joint Pain

Muscle and joint pains are common and seldom need the attention of a doctor. in most cases, the problem will get better on its own, and a few steps can help reduce the pain in the meantime.

Signs and Symptoms

  • •  Pain and stiffness in a muscle or joint, especially when you move.
  • •  Pain, swelling and bruising of a joint, which may also feel hot.

Home Treatment

  • •  For muscle pain, massage the area and keep it warm. Warm baths and rest are helpful. Take simple painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, which helps reduce inflammation.
  • •  For other types of joint pain, rest the sore joint and take painkillers like paracetamol, aspirin (not in children under 12 years) or ibuprofen.