When your head is pounding, your joints are aching, or your back is sending lightning bolts of agony up your spine, it’s a natural impulse to reach for the first thing you can find that will make the pain go away.
But not every test and treatment for pain is right for you, and some may even cause harm. Below are some options to discuss with your healthcare provider to make sure that you end up with the right amount of care -- not too much and not too little.
Contents of This Section
Where Does it Hurt?
Consumer Reports has written these short guides to help you talk with doctors about specific tests and treatments that you may be considering.
They are based on the Choosing Wisely campaign, a nationwide effort by medical specialists to name the screenings, tests, procedures, and drugs that may not be necessary, are used too often, or may even do more harm than good.
Back Pain Tests and Treatments Some tests and treatments for back pain may not be right for you. That's why it is important to talk to your doctor.
Bed Rest for Lower-Back Pain Studies show that staying in bed longer than 48 hours won’t help with lower-back pain.
CMR Tests for Chest Pain and Cardiac Screening CMR is an imaging test for heart disease. But it may not be the best test for you.
Does Your Lower Back Hurt? You probably don’t need an MRI, CT scan, or X-ray.
Five Ways to be Smart About Back Pain Don’t rush to MRIs, CT scans or X-rays. They have risks, cost a lot, and usually won’t help you feel better faster.
Imaging for Headaches Imaging tests usually don’t show why you’re having headaches, and they won’t ease your pain.
Imaging Tests for Back Pain It seems like getting an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to find the cause would be a good idea, but they won't make you feel better.
Neck and Back Pain: When You Need Tests If the symptoms are severe or continue for a while, you may need an electrodiagnostic test.
Painkiller Choices With Kidney or Heart Problems If you suffer from high blood pressure, heart failure, or kidney disease, steer clear of some pain relievers.
Stress Tests for Chest Pain If you’re at low risk for having a heart problem, even if you have symptoms, you usually don’t need this imaging test.
Avoiding Opioid Painkillers
You probably have some of these prescription drugs, like OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicodin, in your medicine cabinet. How did these dangerously addictive pills turn into the most prescribed drugs in America? And what can you do to avoid the painkiller trap?
Avoid Opioids for Most Long-Term Pain In this guide you can read what the experts say about using opioids for several health conditions.
Medicines to Relieve Chronic Pain Opioids (narcotics) usually are not the best way to treat long-term pain like arthritis, back pain or headaches.
Opioids for Pain Do you have ongoing pain that is not from cancer or a terminal illness? We have five steps that you can take to manage your pain.
Pain Relief: What You Need to Know 125 million people are in pain, spending some $300 billion to find relief, but are the treatments worth it?
Prescription Painkillers: 5 Surprising Facts We reviewed the research and talked to the experts to identify five things you need to know if you are considering taking an opioid for pain.
Treating Frequent Headaches With Pain Relievers It is easy to use too much pain medicine. This can make headaches worse and cause other medical problems.