Pain is complex, so there are many treatment options, from medications to mind-body techniques. Pain management involves identifying the source of the problem when possible and using appropriate treatments. Learn more about treatment options below.
Home palliative care a key to respecting end of life wishes
Educational videos, exercise, and neck mobilization were more beneficial for treating neck pain or whip lash than ultrasound or electrical stimulation. Laser therapy, exercise and massage or acupuncture may help with chronic pain. Hard or soft collars did not work.
This patient decision aid helps people considering taking medicine every day to prevent migraines decide on whether or not to use preventive treatment by comparing the benefits, risks and side effects of both options.
This patient decision aid helps older adults (more than 50 years old) who is in a hospital because of a hip fracture decide on methods of managing pain. It outlines options such as using acetaminophen, opioid analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and other treatments and compares the benefits and side effects associated with each option
Bursitis causes painful swelling and stiffness in joints like the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee, and is more likely as you age. Treatments include medication, physical therapy and - in extreme cases - surgery. Tips for prevention and home remedies in this resource.
Common running injuries include sore muscles, shin splints, sprains or pulled muscles. Treatments include ice baths, stretching before or after exercise, proper running shoes and insoles. However, there is no evidence that these methods prevent or reduce your risk of injury. Studies show pain medication is the most effective treatment for sports injuries.
Gout is a painful condition that develops in some people who have high blood levels of urate. This condition can be prevented with anti-inflammatories and by lowering urate with diet changes. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain.
Opioids are a type of medicine that can be prescribed by your doctor for chronic pain. Not everyone gets adequate pain relief from opioids and many people can become addicted to this type of medication. Most people should not take opioids for a long time.
Over-the-counter painkiller medications are a simple, inexpensive and effective treatment option for acute pain (such as toothache or sprain). Ibuprofen/paracetamol combinations are especially effective.
Breast pain affects many women and is often caused by hormone changes. Breast pain is unlikely a sign of breast cancer. Choose a well-fitting bra, try hot or cold compresses, relaxation and pain relievers. Speak to your doctor if the pain persists or gets worse over time.
Muscle relaxants are used to help reduce or prevent muscle spasms and sometimes anxiety, insomnia or seizures. Only use them when prescribed by your doctor. Muscle relaxants have a number of side effects.
Apply ice for 15-20 minutes a few times each day, use a heating pad and try an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with mild joint pain. See your doctor if you have joint pain with swelling, redness, tenderness or warmth around the joint or if joint pain is caused by an injury.
Some exercises may help to reduce low back pain and dysfunction. Try stretching exercises such as bridges, the drawing in maneuver, leg raises, supermans and partial curls. This resource details how to do each of these exercises.
Tendinopathy refers to injuries to the tendons. Age, repetitive movements and certain medical conditions make you more susceptible. To prevent elbow tendinopathy, take breaks from repetitive movements and take care with lifting and gripping objects. Read more information about causes, treatment and prevention in this resource.
Nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDS) help relieve pain and swelling and are some of the most commonly used medicines. NSAIDS may cause complications for people with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications. Read this resource for details and discuss with your doctor.
Medical marijuana is a promising way to treat chronic pain and help reduce muscle spasms for people with MS. There is no evidence it helps treat depression, anxiety or glaucoma. Medical marijuana has numerous side effects and is not federally regulated in the US.
Combination painkillers and fast-acting drugs (eg. ibuprofen and paracetamol) can give good pain relief. Serious side effects are rare. Different people react differently to painkillers - even the most effective drugs may not work for you, but another one might.
Low back pain is one of the most common disorders and often people recover quickly. Treatment includes exercise, heat, pain medication, physical therapy, or acupuncture. Read more here about when to seek help.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain which often feels worse when stepping out of bed in the morning. Treatment includes rest, ice, stretches (see pictures), shoe inserts and pain medication.
Neck pain can be caused by muscle strain, ligament sprains, arthritis or pinched nerves. Most people get better with therapy. Treatments include ice, heat, massage and stretching (examples in this resource).
This patient decision aid helps patients with lumbar spinal stenosis decide on whether or not to have surgery by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options. It also includes alternative options to surgery such as trying medicine, exercise, and/or physical therapy.
If you have chronic pain, cannabis could help. Cannabis can have negative side effects like lowering your blood pressure and increasing your risk of falling. More research is needed about the health effects of cannabis.
Deep vein thrombosis can be caused by prolonged bedrest or sitting for long periods of time. Symptoms include leg pain or swelling in the leg. This condition can be very serious since it increases your risk for pulmonary embolism. If you have signs of DVT, see your doctor.
Leg pain can have many causes including a build-up of fluid in the leg veins. New and lasting leg pain is a good reason to visit your doctor. Support socks or hose can help ease pain from fluid buildup.
This patient decision aid helps individuals with chronic tension headaches that interfere with daily living decide on whether or not to take daily prescription medicine by comparing the benefits, risks, and side effects of both options.
Pain in the front of the shoulder can be a tendon injury, often from overuse, or wear and tear. Try to avoid lifting heavy items and reaching motions. Consider taking medication if symptoms recur. For more severe cases, physical therapy and surgery may help.
This resource discusses ways to treat and prevent arthritis of the shoulder. Avoid putting strain on the joint; for example, put that arm in your shirt or coat first when getting dressed. Try applying heat, stretching, shoulder exercises and nonprescription pain relievers to help ease pain. Details in this resource.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Chronic pain is mild to severe pain that lasts longer than six months. Some alternative approaches (acupuncture, yoga, herbal supplements), used in addition to conventional medicine, may help people manage chronic pain. Speak with your doctor before you begin any alternative health approach to make sure it is safe for you.
The most common causes of hip pain are arthritis, muscle strain and nerve irritation. Avoid extremes of hip motion and reduce jarring and activities that put strain on your hips. You can also try pain medications, stretches and strength training.
Of all the joints in the body, the knee is at the greatest risk of injury and arthritis. Treatment for pain includes ice, stretching, and strength exercises. Try to avoid activities that put strain on your knees.
Chronic pain lasts 3 months or longer and can range from mild to severe. It is common in older adults, but not a normal part of aging. This resource includes answers to frequently asked questions like, "What can I do at home to help my symptoms?"
Arthroscopic knee surgery involves small incisions to remove damaged tissue. This procedure helps provide short term pain relief, but not long term benefits and there are risks involved. Researchers do not recommend it for middle aged or older adults.
There is not enough research to deny hormone therapy to women who have had their ovaries removed. However, there is also no evidence that hormone therapy helps decrease pain or lower the risk of more surgery. More research is needed.
Be skeptical about studies that claim certain foods can help ease pain - many are based on small studies and not yet confirmed by high quality research. Some types of chronic pain can be improved by diet changes (eg. celiac disease). Talk to your doctor about your pain before changing your diet.
Try self-care, medication, and rehabilitation to treat back pain. Get a second opinion if your doctor recommends imaging or surgery. These options should be limited to cases of severe pain or if your doctor suspects progressive neurological impairment or serious underlying conditions.
Squatting may help constipation. Use a stool to raise your feet and avoid straining while you are on the toilet. Other tips: drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine, eat more fibre, exercise and take your time on the toilet.
Most back pain clears on its own without treatment, usually within 4-6 weeks. Surgery for back pain is often only a last resort. This resource includes advice about when to contact a doctor or seek emergency care.
Foam rollers can help you stretch, strengthen and massage your muscles, relieve tension and improve balance. If you have had an injury, talk to your doctor before using rollers or any exercise device. Tips and exercises for foam rollers in this resource.
Pain is experienced differently by each person. Some strategies to manage pain include muscle relaxation, imagery, distraction, biofeedback, accupuncture, massage, heat or cold therapy. There are also medications that can help manage pain.
Physical therapy may help reduce arthritis pain. Physical therapists can make specific exercise plans that help strengthen and stretch joints, and improve range of motion for older adults with arthritis.
To relieve back pain try resting, using heat or ice, over-the-counter pain relievers, exercising again and aquatic therapy. Call your doctor right away if you have back pain with changes in bowel or bladder control, reduced sexual function or numbness in the genital region, fever or vomiting, or pain, numbness or tingling that is felt into the limbs.
As you get older, getting from one place to another can be a challenge. To put you on the road to better health, invest in a sturdy pair of shoes and use the power of your own two feet to get you to where you need to be.
Low back pain can make getting through the day challenging enough without worrying about keeping up your exercise regimen. But before you throw in the (gym) towel, read the latest research about the best types of exercise for relieving back pain.
Most people experience pain after surgery and need to take pain killers for at least a few days. Being in charge of their own medications gives patients some control and may result in improved pain relief.
If you’re undergoing surgery or other hospital treatments you’re probably not thinking of boogying to the beat. But research shows music therapy can reduce anxiety and pain and help ease depression and fatigue.
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