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

Pain relief, opioids, and constipation

Opioid drugs like morphine are the most effective pain relievers, but constipation is a typical side effect. it is therefore advisable to take a stool softener and a laxative when taking an opioid. More »

Gout: Joint pain and more

Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs primarily in older men, and is caused by a buildup of excess uric acid in the body that crystallizes in a joint, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. More »

A vaccine for shingles

Doctors know it as zoster, but up to a million Americans are stricken each year by the infection they call shingles. By either name, it's an unsightly, often painful process that can be prevented by a vaccine that was approved in 2006. The culprit is varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella in children). The vast majority of children recover completely, but that's not the end of the story. Instead of being killed and eliminated from the body, VZV goes into hibernation, hiding out in the part of the nervous system known as the sensory nerve ganglia. In most people, the virus remains dormant and harmless for life, but in up to 15%, VZV becomes active and causes shingles. Most patients with shingles are older than 60, and some have weakened immune systems. The virus spreads along the sensory nerve to form a line of blisters on one side of the body. Most patients recover fully, but a few develop serious complications, and up to a third develop long-lasting pain (post-herpetic neuralgia). Antiviral medicines, which are often prescribed with steroids, can reduce the risk of pain. More »

Emergencies and First Aid - Back Injuries

Unless the person is able to tell you to the contrary, assume that anyone with a back injury also has a neck injury. Place a board, such as a door or table leaf, next to the person. The board should extend below the buttocks (ideally to the feet) and above the head. Keeping the head aligned with the rest of the body, gently logroll the person toward you. Move the board under the person and ease him or her onto it. If the person is vomiting, lay him or her on one side and continue to support the head. More »

Emergencies and First Aid - How to Make a Sling

1. To make a sling, cut a piece of cloth, such as a pillowcase, about 40 inches square. Then cut or fold the square diagonally to make a triangle. Slip one end of the bandage under the arm and over the shoulder. Bring the other end of the bandage over the other shoulder, cradling the arm. More »

Emergencies and First Aid - How to Splint a Fracture

For a lower arm or wrist fracture (left), carefully place a folded newspaper, magazine, or heavy piece of clothing under the arm. Tie it in place with pieces of cloth. A lower leg or ankle fracture (right) can be splinted similarly, with a bulky garment or blanket wrapped and secured around the limb. More »

Emergencies and First Aid -— Broken Bones

Broken bones (fractures) are usually not life-threatening. A fracture may not be visible to you through the skin. Symptoms include intense pain, swelling, increased pain when trying to move the injured area, or bleeding. A broken bone always requires medical attention. Immediate careCall out for someone to get help, or call 911 yourself. Do not move or straighten the broken bone. Splinting is not necessary unless the person needs to be moved without assistance from ambulance personnel or unless the fracture has blocked blood supply to the limb. If the fracture site is deformed and the skin beyond the site of the fracture is cold, pale, and blue, pull gently lengthwise on the limb to straighten the fracture and then splint the limb. How to Make a Sling More »

Getting a leg up on sciatica

Sciatica's (pronounced sigh-AT-eh-ka) hallmarks are pain and numbness that radiates down the leg, often below the knee. In nine out of 10 cases, sciatica is caused by a displaced disk in the lower spine. The best medicine is often patience — with some stoicism mixed in — because the pain often goes away, even if the problem disk does not. Researchers have found that the pain usually improves within a month. No one is quite sure why the pain subsides on its own, but it does. But if the pain is very bad or persists, many people with sciatica must decide whether to have surgery. There are several sorts of operations, but they all involve paring back disks in some way so they don't impinge on nerve roots. And these aren't high-risk operations — complications are rare. More »

Shingles

    Do you have a history of chicken pox?  Does your skin hurt, itch, or feel numb?  Is the pain sharp, dull, or piercing? How long have you had it?  Do you have a rash? If so, for how long?  Is the rash in more than one place on your skin?  Is the rash on one side of your body only?  Has the rash at any time looked like small blisters?  Do you still have pain even if the rash is gone?  What triggers the pain (for example, a light touch)?  Do your symptoms interfere with your ability to sleep or perform activities of daily living?  Do you have any risk factors for infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)?  Are you taking any medications?                                Careful skin exam          Skin scraping to examine under the microscope, or for viral culture, immunofluorescence, or polymerase chain reaction testing           (Locked) More »