Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D. R.N. CRNA – written by Erica Cirino – updated on September 3, 2018


Everyone experiences occasional aches and pains. In fact, sudden pain is an important reaction of the nervous system that helps alert you to possible injury. When an injury occurs, pain signals travel from the injured area up your spinal cord and to your brain.

Pain will usually become less severe as the injury heals. However, chronic pain is different from typical pain. With chronic pain, your body continues to send pain signals to your brain, even after an injury heals. This can last several weeks to years. Chronic pain can limit your mobility and reduce your flexibility, strength, and... Read more

Medically reviewed by Nancy Hammond, M.D. – written by Alex Snyder on January 7, 2019

Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive immune-mediated disorder that causes a person’s body to mistakenly attack the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, optic nerve.)

When a person has MS, their central nervous system (CNS) becomes acutely inflamed. This inflammation damages the nerves by wearing away the protective layer of myelin that insulates the nerve fibers and facilitates the transmission of central nervous signals.

After enough damage is done to the myelin and nerve fibers, the transmission of signals becomes interrupted and can even be halted completely. As a result of this degeneration... Read more

Posted April 01, 2020, Updated April 06, 2020 Peter Grinspoon, MD Contributor – Harvard Health Publishing

As a primary care doctor who has incorporated medical cannabis into his practice, it is notable how many silver-haired patients are coming in to discuss the pros and cons of a trial of medical cannabis. These patients range from people in their 60’s with kidney failure who can no longer take certain pain medications but still need to manage chronic pain, to patients in their 90’s, who are looking for a good night’s sleep and are leery of the side effects of traditional sleep medications. Some of them—typically “children of the 60s”—are quite comfortable with the idea of using medical marijuana; others bring it up quietly,... Read more

Posted January 15, 2018, Updated April 10, 2020

Peter Grinspoon, MD Contributor – Harvard Health Publishing

There are few subjects that can stir up stronger emotions among doctors, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the public than medical marijuana. Is it safe? Should it be legal? Decriminalized? Has its effectiveness been proven? What conditions is it useful for? Is it addictive? How do we keep it out of the hands of teenagers? Is it really the “wonder drug” that people claim it is? Is medical marijuana just a ploy to legalize marijuana in general?

These are just a few of the excellent questions around this subject, questions that I am going to studiously avoid so we can focus on two specific areas: why... Read more

By Edward Bilsky, PhD, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

Management of chronic pain is challenging enough given the myriad of pain diagnoses and the complexity of the underlying pathology that drives persistent pain. Highly coordinated, multidisciplinary care is central to limiting the impact that pain has on overall health and well-being. Unfortunately, this care is not always affordable or accessible to many patients. Living in rural and medically underserved areas presents additional challenges in receiving optimal care, as I have personally witnessed over several decades living and working in Maine and now Washington State, which both have large rural areas. The global pandemic, which has upended so many... Read more

By Monica Mallampalli, PhD, Healthy Women

Cynthia Toussaint spent 13 ½ years with burning pain spreading through her body, initiated from a torn hamstring during ballet class.

As the pain spread, she was forced to stop dancing. Her doctors would not diagnose her properly, telling her it was psychological—a common yet inaccurate diagnosis for women suffering from pain. They gave reasons from “stage fright” to “enjoying the secondary gain of attention” from her partner. None would even refer her for psychiatry help they claimed she needed.

It took years for her to finally be diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) by a specialist. Since then, she has founded For Grace, a nonprofit geared to bettering... Read more

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