Every person experiences pain at one time or another. Pain may be related
to an injury, a surgical procedure, or a medical problem. Pain can come from
an illness or can be the result of a combination of factors. Each person experiences
pain in an individual way. Different kinds of pain may cause a variety of
There are many ways to treat pain. Treatment often depends on identifying
the cause of the pain. Sometimes simple therapies are not enough to treat
persons with a difficult pain problem. For these patients, there are doctors
who specialize in treatment of pain. These physicians may have backgrounds
in a variety of medical specialties.
The November 12, 2003, issue of JAMA is a theme issue devoted
to articles about pain and pain management.
Acute—injury, inflammation, surgery, childbirth
Chronic—pain problems of long duration
Neuropathic—from diseases of the nerves or from injury to nerves
Cancer—pain related to malignant disease or tumors and their
effects on the body
See your doctor if you experience a pain problem that is unusual for
you. Early diagnosis and treatment of pain problems can lessen their effects
on the body and the mind. Because pain also has emotional effects, your doctor
may suggest ways other than medications to help you manage your pain problem.
Rest or exercise
Heat or ice
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen)
Opioid (narcotic) medications taken by mouth, injection, or rectal administration
Nerve block (injection of anesthetic around a nerve)
Transdermal (through the skin) medications
Epidural (space outside the spinal cord covering) or
spinal (space inside the spinal covering) injections
Implantation of pumps (for medications) or spinal cord stimulators
Psychotherapy (talking with a mental health professional)
Fear of addiction to narcotic medications stops some persons from treating
their pain adequately. Narcotic medications, when used properly under the
supervision of your doctor, may be useful in treating severe pain, cancer
pain, or difficult chronic pain problems.
American Pain Foundation888/615-PAIN (7246)http://www.painfoundation.org
American Society of Anesthesiologists800/562-8666http://www.asahq.org/patientEducation/managepain.htm
American Cancer Society800/227-2345http://www.cancer.org
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page
link on JAMA 's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many
are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on managing pain was
published in the April 5, 2000, issue; one on coping with back pain was published
in the December 6, 2000, issue; and one on low back pain was published in
the June 19, 1998, issue.
Sources: American Board of Pain Medicine, American Cancer Society, American
Pain Foundation, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
American Society of Anesthesiologists
The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA . The
information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in
most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific
information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests
that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially
by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients.
Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval. To purchase
bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Pain Management. JAMA. 2003;290(18):2504. doi:10.1001/jama.290.18.2399