Pain Management

What to do for stubborn low back pain

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
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.

The cost of chronic pain

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

Even with comprehensive insurance, people with chronic conditions must shoulder the costs of many treatment-related expenses that are not covered because they are considered complementary or alternative therapies.

I love my kids but they’ve ruined my neck

Steve Calechman
Steve Calechman, Contributor

People who have kids spend a lot of time looking down. Even those who don’t probably spend a lot of time looking down at their phone, tablet, or laptop. Either way it’s bad for the neck muscles; a physical therapist offers some advice.

Contrary to popular belief, epidurals don’t prolong labor. Phew.

Hope Ricciotti, MD
Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Challenging a long-held belief, a new study found that women who received epidural anesthesia during labor did not have prolonged labor or higher rates of cesarean births.

Women and pain: Disparities in experience and treatment

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

Most people dealing with chronic pain are women, but most pain research has been done on men. The disparity in how women are diagnosed and treated is unfair, and can be dangerous.

Lessons from a chronic pain management program

Laura Kiesel
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.

Too many pain pills after surgery: When good intentions go awry

Scott Weiner, MD
Scott Weiner, MD, Contributor

The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on lives. There are many factors behind this crisis, some of which may be surprising. A reasonable and well-intentioned effort to reduce and relieve pain can inadvertently lead to a potentially life-threatening addiction, but there are some surprisingly simple ways to avoid such scenarios.

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

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

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.

Here’s something completely different for low back pain

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

With recently revised guidelines recommending that people with low back pain not take medication, it’s natural to wonder: what should I do, then? There are many options, among them heat, massage, yoga, and acupuncture.

Yes, I’ve tried that too: When well-intentioned advice hurts

Laura Kiesel
Laura Kiesel, Contributor

If you know someone dealing with chronic pain it’s tempting to offer advice, but whatever the suggestion might be, that person has almost certainly tried it already. Simply taking time to listen and empathize may be more helpful.