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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

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    The complicated relationship between pain and high blood pressure

    Dear Dr. Roach: I have sciatic pain. I do my best to mitigate the pain with exercise. The only painkiller I can tolerate is aspirin. I have been approved for physical therapy, but that doesn’t start for another six weeks. When I stand up, the pain is intense, and I just force myself to walk, because then it goes away. My blood pressure is now elevated and has been elevated for several days. I feel unwell. This morning it was 141/90. Can pain raise blood pressure like this?

    — J.B.

    Dear J.B.: In a healthy person with onset of acute pain, blood pressure very frequently increases. This is not usually a concern, as a healthy person’s vascular system is robust, and it is unlikely to cause harm in the relatively short period of time it takes pain to resolve (although it may feel like a very long time).

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