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

When headaches are more than a pain

Everyone experiences the occasional headache, and while most episodes are not serious and can be treated on their own, people should be mindful about signs of the different types of headaches, such as tension, migraine, and cluster, as well as how they are treated, so they can determine if their pain is something more serious that requires medical attention. (Locked) More »

Strategies to manage surgical pain

Taking opioid medications after surgery can lead to problems, including addiction, and should be avoided when possible. Taking nonprescription pain relievers; recognizing a certain amount of discomfort as normal; and adopting non-medication pain relief methods, such as icing after surgery, can reduce the need for opioid pain medications. (Locked) More »

Ouch! Shoulder pain and how to treat it

 Image: © vitapix/Getty Images You probably don't think about your shoulders much, until you suddenly experience pain in one of them. Shoulder pain can make a simple act — brushing and drying your hair, reaching behind your back to fasten a bra, or grabbing something overhead — seem like a monumental task. As you age, you're more likely to experience shoulder pain from a variety of common conditions. "Shoulder problems are very common," says Dr. Arun Ramappa, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. The pain can come on gradually or abruptly, and it may range from mild to excruciating. More »

The pain of measuring pain

The 10-point pain scale has been used for decades to help patients communicate pain levels to their doctors, but a more thorough approach is a multi-tier method. This includes placing pain into different categories like mild, moderate, and severe, with some levels of degree under each one, as well as describing the pain and explaining its location, severity, duration, and specific qualities. (Locked) More »

The drug-free approach to pain management

One of the main reasons for the growing addiction to pain medicine is the ease at which it is often prescribed. Yet, depending on a person’s type and severity of pain, there may be nondrug options available that can help control, manage, and perhaps treat the underlying cause of painful flare-ups. These include physical therapy, yoga, mind-body therapies, and complementary treatments, among others. More »

Babying your back may delay healing

 You might be considering surgery or other intervention to treat your back pain. But less may actually be more for this common problem, and in many instances the best medicine is good old-fashioned movement and exercise. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. It's also a little strange as far as ailments go. When you twist your ankle, you generally have pain that slowly goes away as the injury heals. Not so with back pain. Relief doesn't seem to be linked to healing because the pain is usually unrelated to an injury. In fact, back pain often diminishes over time, even when there is an underlying problem like a herniated disc or arthritis, says Dr. James Rainville, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. More »

Moving away from knee osteoarthritis

An estimated 10% of men ages 60 and older having symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or aspirin, and steroid injections can temporarily soothe arthritis pain and inflammation. But an easier and safer way to manage symptoms is to be more active as bones and cartilage need the stimulation of regular movement to stay healthy and pain free. More »

What new opioid laws mean for pain relief

 Image: © Darwin Brandis/Getty Images Overdoses of powerful painkillers called opioids kill more than 115 people per day in the United States. More than 42,000 people died from opioids in 2016, five times more than in 1999. The reason? Since several of these powerful painkillers became available in pill form several decades ago, doctors have been prescribing more than patients need. "It is estimated that a large part of leftover opioids are diverted to the street, either deliberately or through theft," says Dr. Edgar Ross, senior clinician at the Pain Management Center at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. The misuse of opioids is a risk many states are no longer willing to take. The rules limit the amounts that medical professionals can prescribe for temporary (acute) pain from surgery, injury, or illness. (Locked) More »