Pain Management

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.

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.

Chronic pain and childhood trauma

Laura Kiesel

Contributor

As it becomes more apparent that there is a connection between childhood trauma and physical and emotional health problems in adults, treatment approaches that acknowledge this link are likely to be more effective on both sides.

Opioids in the household: “Sharing” pain pills is too common

Monique Tello, MD, MPH

Contributing Editor

Many people have taken a friend’s or family member’s pain medication on occasion, but the ongoing opioid crisis has drawn attention to such behavior, forcing doctors, hospice workers, and other care providers to tighten their procedures and track quantities and dosages of pills more carefully.

CGRP: A new era for migraine treatment

A new type of medication for migraine headaches is currently being reviewed by the FDA, and if approved may provide safe, long-lasting relief for many by blocking the activation of a molecule involved in the pain process.

Acupuncture for headache

Although acupuncture has been practiced for centuries, many people are still skeptical of its effectiveness. But in the past decade or so, a significant amount of evidence has accumulated from high-quality studies showing that acupuncture provides genuine pain relief, and can help with other conditions as well.

Medical marijuana

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Contributing Editor

Medical marijuana is controversial, in part because many people aren’t aware of how and why it is used. Most commonly it is used to ease pain, and doctors need to be prepared for the questions their patients will have about it.

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.