Pain Archive

Articles

The perception of pain

Most people experience occasional acute musculoskeletal pain as part of daily living, such as an injury caused by exercising or a minor household accident. Acute pain is short-term and often becomes manageable with home remedies and over-the-counter medication. However, when symptoms persist there is greater chance that it will become chronic pain, which lasts two to three months or longer. That's when medical advice is needed.

Is that dental pain an emergency?

Tooth, gum, or jaw pain can stem from many health problems. For example, tooth pain can result from a cavity, cracked filling, or an infection. Gum pain can come from irritation due to tooth brushing, food, dentures, gum disease, or infection. Jaw pain can be triggered by disorders of the temporomandibular joint, narrowed heart arteries, or even a heart attack. All persistent tooth, gum, and jaw pain should prompt a call to a dentist as soon as possible. Sudden neck or lower jaw pain can signal an emergency and warrants a call to 911, especially in a person with known heart problems.

Pill-free pain treatments that won't break the bank

Many strategies that reduce chronic pain are activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Examples include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, stretching, sleeping seven to nine hours per night, staying socially connected, and managing stress. There are lots of free or low-cost ways to practice the activities or get better at them, such as apps, online videos, classes, and support groups. Strategies that require a little financial investment include physical therapy, dietitian services, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, in-person exercise classes, and talk therapy.

What should you do when sciatica flares?

It may take a combination of approaches to ease the discomfort of a sciatica flare-up. Strategies include staying active, modifying activities to make them less demanding on the back, stretching, using hot or cold therapy, meditating, and using oral or topical painkillers. If the flare-up lasts longer than a week or two and isn't responding to home remedies, it's time to make a doctor appointment. The doctor might order imaging tests and prescribe a prescription anti-inflammatory drug, such as oral or injected prednisone.

Why does my back ache?

Back pain symptoms can vary widely, ranging from a dull, ongoing ache to intense, shooting pain or spasms. Often, back pain is due to pulls or strains in muscles and soft tissues. Other times, it's caused by inflammation or problems with spinal discs or bones. Most cases of muscular back pain ease with time and home-based treatments such as gentle movement, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, and heat and ice. Physical therapy to strengthen core muscles can also help. People whose back pain is severe or doesn't resolve after three to four weeks should see a doctor.

Overcoming shoulder pain

Most people will experience shoulder pain at some point in their lives. The most common causes of shoulder pain are bursitis, rotator cuff problems, frozen shoulder, and osteoarthritis. They can occur for various reasons, such as overuse, injury, and age-related wear and tear. A doctor may be able to make a likely diagnosis based on a person's symptoms, a shoulder exam, and sometimes MRI. Treatment often includes a combination of rest, over-the-counter medication, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery is needed to repair damage.

Which migraine medications are most helpful?

Many medications claim to relieve migraine pain, but some are more helpful than others. In a large study looking at real-world data on 25 drugs, migraine sufferers rated the most and least helpful options.

Electricity as chronic pain medicine

Several types of "electroceutical" therapies use tiny zaps of electricity to help ease chronic pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy and electroacupuncture are designed to work by interrupting pain signals being sent to the brain. Scrambler therapy is thought to work by changing pain information sent to the brain. Good candidates for such therapies are people with arthritis, neuropathy, neck or back pain, or pain from cancer treatment. Some people should stay away from electroceuticals, including those with any kind of implanted stimulation device, such as a pacemaker or bladder stimulator.

Do I have a pinched nerve?

A pulled muscle sometimes feels similar to a pinched nerve. But muscle pain is usually dull and doesn't radiate outward, while pinched nerve pain is sharp and burning and extends from one area to another. Pinched nerves can stem from pregnancy, arthritis, or injuries.

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