Pain Management

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.

Managing pain after surgery

Even with all the attention given to the opioid epidemic, it may still be a surprise to some people that prescription pain medication is not always necessary after a surgical procedure. Talking with your doctor about post-surgical pain management will help you understand what to expect.

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.

Art therapy: Another way to help manage pain

Matthew Solan

Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Art therapy can be an effective tool in the treatment and management of pain when used as an adjunct to medication. Taking the brain’s focus away from pain improves mood and helps people regain control of their lives.

Aerobic exercise or tai chi for fibromyalgia — which is better?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Physical activity is beneficial for people with fibromyalgia, but the pain caused by the condition makes exercise difficult for many. A new study compares the benefits of aerobic exercise and tai chi as treatments for fibromyalgia.