You’re really fatigued
The myth of the heart attack victim clutching their chest and collapsing has long been busted. It pays to listen up to subtler signs of a heart attack like nausea, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and back pain, says Dr Tien.
Your legs are weak
It’s time to think about a possible slipped disc (also called a herniated disc), which can happen if you lift something heavy using your back instead of your legs. If you feel upper back pain along with numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, it may be a sign of a neurologic injury from a slipped disc, says Dr Chang. Your doctor can make the diagnosis with a physical exam. You may also want to check for signs your upper back pain is actually arthritis.
A deep breath hurts
Take a deep breath: how does that feel? If ‘extremely painful’ is your answer, get checked out. One emergency-worthy cause is a pulmonary embolism, says Dr Tien. “Blood clots can break off from a deep vein in the leg or arm and travel to the lung, wedging in blood vessels, causing poor blood flow, inflammation, and death of lung tissue,” she explains. A tell tale sign is if you have sharp pain and trouble breathing after a long car or plane trip, or after surgery. If your back pain gets worse with a deep breath, you’re short of breath, you’re coughing up blood, or you feel faint, call 000.