Pain Management

Leg pain when you walk? Don’t ignore it

Leg pain when walking that eases with rest may be a sign of peripheral artery disease, which raises risk for other cardiovascular problems. Lifestyle changes — keep walking! — and treatment help.

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.

Kratom: Fear-worthy foliage or beneficial botanical?

Kratom has been used for hundreds of years for various conditions, and today many people are using it to treat chronic pain and mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms. But there is no control or regulation of the product, and it can have serious side effects.

Opioids for acute pain: How much is too much?

Scott Weiner, MD

Contributor

One of the roots of the opioid crisis in the US is how frequently the medications are prescribed. There are times when a prescription opioid is called for, but in many cases an over-the-counter pain medication is very effective.

More opioids, more pain: Fueling the fire

David Boyce, MD

Contributor

One of the paradoxes of treating pain is that the longer a person takes an opioid medication, the greater possibility they will become more sensitive to pain, a condition called opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

Is an opioid really the best medication for my pain?

David Boyce, MD

Contributor

With all the concern around opioid medications and the risk of addiction, it’s understandable that a person might be hesitant if prescribed an opioid. Many factors need to be weighed in making this decision, including the type of pain, the cause, and how long it has persisted.

Is tramadol a risky pain medication?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Tramadol is a unique prescription pain medicine similar to opioids. Research finds people taking it had a higher risk of dying than those taking other pain medicines. But a confounding factor may make tramadol seem more risky than it really is.

Undoing the harm: Tapering down from high-dose opioids

Scott Weiner, MD

Contributor

The CDC’s 2016 Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain was created to help providers and patients manage medication treatment at safe levels and avoid dependence. Any plan to taper medication dosage should be personalized to the patient’s needs.

Brain-gut connection explains why integrative treatments can help relieve digestive ailments

Because of the strong connection between the brain and the digestive system, stress can cause or worsen many gastrointestinal conditions, and gut inflammation can have effects in other areas of the body. Mind-body treatments can improve digestive symptoms and decrease the stress response.

Got pain? Get better sleep

Stuart Quan, MD

Contributing Editor

Research has illuminated the intersection between poor sleep and pain, showing that the perception of pain increases after inadequate or poor-quality sleep. This has implications for anyone experiencing pain, and it is also relevant to combatting the opioid crisis.