Harvard Men's Health Watch

Ease your pain by controlling your mind

Lower your dependency on medication by altering your perception of pain.

ease your pain by controlling your mind
Image: Cathy Yeulet/ Thinkstock

Everyday pain becomes more constant as you age. It can vary from morning aches to occasional joint flare-ups to recurrent episodes that interfere with your life and overall health.

Yet pain has a valuable role. It alerts your systems to potential injury so you can seek treatment. "Pain is similar to blood pressure, which becomes a problem if the levels become too high," says Dr. Jianren Mao, director of the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Translational Pain Research. "Only when pain becomes intolerable should you resort to medication or other types of treatment."

However, many people respond to all pain the same way. No matter its source or severity, they are quick to reach for painkillers, a habit that can quickly turn into a dependency. A safer and perhaps healthier solution may be not to fight the pain, but rather change your reaction to it.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »