February 29, 2016

Navigating the path to chronic pain control is tricky. For the patient and the doctor, the challenge is that there is no single drug or therapy. A combination of approaches, often coordinated by a team of pain experts, is best.

Chronic pain can begin with an injury or a problem such as a bulging disk in the spine. It can be associated with complex syndromes such as fibromyalgia. Or you may experience it as headaches, back pain, joint pain, nerve pain, or a myriad of other localized symptoms.

But here's the rub: Whatever its origin, chronic pain can become a disease in its own right, requiring special attention and treatment. Theories about why and how this happens are explained in this Health Journey. The good news is that science understands more about chronic pain than ever and recognizes that alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture play a healing role.

You're not alone! One study estimated that 30% of Americans have experienced some kind of chronic pain. Among them are people whose stories we explore here—inspiring, instructive, wise.

Our Chronic Pain Health Journey team includes editorial adviser Rollin M. Gallagher, MD, MPH; editors Scott Mowbray and Kate Rope; research editor Michael Gollust; lead writer Suzanne Levy; and many contributing journalists.

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