Pain

Everyone experiences pain at some time. It might be the result of an injury, operation, or pushing your body too hard. Headache, infection, arthritis, and other health problems cause pain. Unchecked, pain can rob you of the ability to sleep, work, and enjoy life. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.

We've come a long way from the days of "grin and bear it," or "no pain, no gain." Pain begets pain, so it's important to stop it early. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pain relief. Standard medications can be a good option for many pain sufferers, but a wide range of effective nondrug therapies are also available.

Pain Articles

The Science of Pain Management - Longwood Seminar

We all experience pain in our lives, but can the cure be worse than the condition? In this seminar, Harvard Medical School experts explore the science of pain, the realities of prescription drug dependence and new discoveries and treatments that may lead to better, safer pain management. Each spring, Harvard Medical School's Office of Communications and External Relations organizes a series of four free "mini-med school" classes for the general public in the heart of Boston's Longwood Medical Area. At the end of the seminar series, participants who attend three out of the four sessions receive a certificate of completion. Topics are selected for their appeal to a lay audience and have included the human genome, nutrition, sleep dynamics and health care access. Faculty from Harvard Medical School and its affiliate hospitals volunteer their time to present these lectures to the community. More »

Think that hip pain is bursitis? Think again.

Side hip pain was often diagnosed as bursitis. In recent years, doctors have discovered that 90% of the time, side hip pain is more likely to be the result of other conditions, such as tendinitis; an irritated iliotibial band; tight, imbalanced muscles in the buttocks; or spine problems. Treatment for these conditions typically involves stretching and strengthening the muscles in the buttocks and hips, and strengthening the core muscles. Restoring balance to the muscles helps the body function better and eliminate pain. (Locked) More »

What's that chest pain?

The big fear about chest pain is that it’s the result of a heart attack. Symptoms can include pressure or squeezing in the chest, lightheadedness, and pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. However, chest pain can have any number of causes, such as heartburn, a panic attack, an overuse injury that inflames the chest wall, or a lung condition. Chest pain that is sudden or severe warrants a call to 911. If it’s been going on for months, it’s probably okay to be evaluated at a doctor’s office instead of the emergency department. (Locked) More »

The surprising side effects from using technology

Using electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, can lead to joint pain. Frequent texting can cause strain or overuse injuries of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb (a condition called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis). Pushing buttons too hard can lead to inflammation around the tendons and pulleys that bend the fingers, increasing the risk for trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis). Typing can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Looking down at devices for long periods can lead to neck pain. Pain relief may come with rest and changing the way one uses electronic devices. More »

Is your pillow hurting your health?

Pillows are useful tools for comfort and positioning. The right sleeping position can help stave off symptoms of heartburn and some conditions that cause dizziness. But pillows can cause harm if they provide too much or too little support, leading to back or neck pain. And pillows can’t eliminate health problems such as restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea—even though some pillows are marketed as solutions to snoring and sleep disorders. The only way to address sleep disorders is to talk to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. More »

The best meds for back pain

An estimated 80% of people will seek medical attention for back pain at some point in their lives. Most of the time over-the-counter pain relievers does the trick. But they may not be effective enough. Some people require stronger prescription drugs while they seek treatments to address the source of their back pain. (Locked) More »

Opening up arteries to treat stable angina: Just a sham?

Chest pain occurring with physical activity or emotional stress that quickly goes away with rest is known as stable angina. Treatments include medications (including drugs such as beta blockers and nitrates) or an artery-opening procedure known as angioplasty with a stent. Although a study suggested that a stent was no better than a sham procedure for stable angina, experts say the trial was too short and too small to conclude that stents don’t work for stable angina. (Locked) More »