Feature Archive

Living With Pain

Daily pain can make life grind to a halt, but that's becoming less likely as both patients and doctors focus on pain and what to do about it.

ByDulceZamora
WebMD Feature

Reviewed ByCharlotteGrayson,MD

Donald Small feels like a new man. After years of enduring debilitating back pain, he's finally feeling well enough to coach his daughter's soccer team, to take his kids fishing and camping, and to go on a cruise with his wife. He said goodbye to sickness, short tempers, the heating pad, couch, sedating medication, and seemingly ineffective surgeries after he sought the services of a pain specialist.

"It's changed my whole life," says Small, who now wears a prescribed patch on his upper arm, which steadily administers a pain-killing medicine.

The 40-year-old registered nurse is resigned to the idea that he will probably be on drugs for the rest of his life because of permanent nerve damage. All the same, he's marveling at his renewed strength and capacity to think of something else besides pain.

Small is one of many who have turned to pain management experts for help with never-ending hurts. The specialty is relatively new and still suffers from misconceptions, but it is gradually earning the acceptance and respect of both health professionals and the general public.

With acknowledgement have come the pressing questions: What causes chronic pain? How is it diagnosed? How is it treated?