Pain Management

Why coffee might ease your pain (especially if you’re a sleepy mouse)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A new study found that caffeine may reduce sensitivity to pain, perhaps more effectively than standard pain relievers. But because the findings are based on mouse experiments we can’t say whether or not the results might apply to humans.

Safe injection sites and reducing the stigma of addiction

Scott Weiner, MD
Scott Weiner, MD, Contributor

The scope of the opioid crisis in the US has led some individuals and communities to revise their view of addiction and substance use disorders. One idea being considered is creating supervised injection facilities that would provide a safe environment and make treatment resources available to those who want them.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and your heart

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

As the evidence mounts linking use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with increased risk of heart failure or cardiac arrest, consumers need to be aware of the risks involved in taking these medications.

Acupuncture: A point in the right direction, or a stab in the dark?

Paul G. Mathew, MD, FAAN, FAHS

Though some people surely benefit from acupuncture for the treatment of pain, its drawbacks (cost, length of treatment sessions, short duration of relief) mean that it may be a less effective choice than physical therapy or a medication.

Chronic pain: The “invisible” disability

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

Conditions that cause chronic pain are not always easy to diagnose, and sometimes doctors can be dismissive of people with pain that does not have a readily identifiable cause.

Treating pain after opioid addiction: A personal story

Peter Grinspoon, MD
Peter Grinspoon, MD, Contributing Editor

What happens when a person who was addicted to opiates is injured and needs pain medication? A doctor who is in recovery has firsthand experience.

If you have low back pain try these steps first

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

The American College of Physicians has released revised guidelines for the treatment of low back pain, and their recommendations for the most common types of pain do not include medications.These forms of low back pain usually get better over time and treatment should begin with therapies like heat and massage.

Long-term use of opioids may depend on the doctor who prescribes them

Scott Weiner, MD
Scott Weiner, MD, Contributor

With opioid addiction such a serious problem, new research indicates that some doctors are more likely to prescribe opioids to their patients than others, and those patients are more likely to end up taking these medications long term. That means it is crucial for consumers to educate themselves about the risks of taking opiates, and to consider alternative medications and treatments if possible.

Can you virtually improve your knee pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

A study of people with osteoarthritis of the knee found that at the end of the study period, those participants who received more personalized attention via the web (including physical therapy sessions and information about pain management) had less pain and better movement function.

Some medications don’t help back pain as much as we thought

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

With back pain affecting so many of us, it’s eye-opening that a new review of dozens of studies is reporting that many people who took NSAID medications did not feel any better, or felt only slightly better, after treatment.