Back Pain

I’m in pain, so why is my doctor suggesting a psychologist?

David Boyce, MD

Contributor

The negative emotions that come from coping with chronic pain can lead to depression, and that very depression can lead to worse pain. Understanding the connection between pain and emotional health with the help of a psychologist can address these issues, and there are evidence-based therapies that can help as well.

Should you see a chiropractor for low back pain?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Nearly everyone has experienced some sort of back pain, but unfortunately there is no single best treatment for it. Researchers seeking to evaluate the worth of chiropractic care as an option for back pain treatment studied military personnel, but the study did have some limitations.

What to do with that foam roller at the gym?

Steve Calechman

Contributor

While there is limited research on foam rollers, small studies suggest they may help with muscle and tissue tightness, sore muscles, and range of motion.

Stretching: Less pain, other gains

Stay flexible by adding simple stretches to your day and fitness routine. Stretching aids balance and posture, and helps prevent pain and injury.

Navigating back pain treatments: Can a physiatrist help?

Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point, but if the pain does not subside within a few weeks of standard treatment, or if chronic pain is an ongoing issue, a physiatrist may be able to provide relief or advise what next steps to take.

Yoga for people with back pain

Matthew Solan

Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Yoga helps many people alleviate their low back pain, but unfortunately doing yoga can also be the cause of back injuries, particularly in older people. Learning to do the movements properly and safely is essential, especially if you already have back pain.

Are you taking too much anti-inflammatory medication?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are widely used and generally safe, but they can cause problems, especially if the recommended dosage is exceeded. A new study found that a significant percentage of people were doing this, sometimes intentionally but not always.

What to do for stubborn low back pain

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

How does a doctor treat her own back pain? By following the same advice she gives her patients: alternating ice and heat, doing core exercises, applying topical remedies, and taking over-the-counter medication only if other therapies are not effective.

Lessons from a chronic pain management program

Laura Kiesel

Contributor

Comprehensive programs for chronic pain involve a variety of components, from body mechanics to nutrition to occupational therapy and beyond. And while there is no easy fix for chronic pain, and sometimes no permanent fix at all, unexpected victories can be made in the search for answers.

Taming the pain of sciatica: For most people, time heals and less is more

While not as common as other types of back pain, sciatica can cause intense discomfort, but often the best course of treatment involves controlling the pain and keeping active while the condition subsides.