Pain can come in many forms, which can make it difficult to manage. So how do you know if you should see a doctor about new pain that comes on suddenly? 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:

  • Barely noticeable
  • Present but mild
  • Uncomfortable, but possible to ignore
  • Frequent or constant, but they don’t interfere with activities
  • Constant and distracting, and they do prevent some activities
  • Constant and distressing, and they limit many activities
  • Debilitating and unmanageable, and they prevent most activities
  • Intense, and they make activities — including talking and listening — difficult
  • Severe, and they make activity — even just moving — impossible
  • 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.

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