Sensible advice for aches, pains & injuries

Reading Guide for Patients

How to find information about your pain problem, and other reading recommendations for patients

by Paul Ingraham, Vancouver, Canadabio
I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about memore about

What hurts? The main pain topics on are muscle pain and injury, neck and low back pain, and overuse injuries of the knee, shin, and foot. Many other topics are covered as well … but those are the big ones.

No problem? If you don’t have any particular problem to solve, start with one of my more controversial articles, some of which or sorta-kinda infamous, like the one about stretching, or the one about Epsom salts.

What works? There are also several major treatment and therapy topics. Self-treatment is the biggest theme on the site. There’s a giant list of handy pain survival tips, plus dozens of detailed articles about things you can do yourself, like self-massage, exercise and posture, icing and heating, and reviews of many popular home remedies like Epsom salts or homeopathic arnica. The hands-on therapies — like massage therapy and chiropractic — are all covered in detail.

What’s not here? I don’t write in detail about arthritis, trauma, or disease-related pain.

The big list o’ painful problems (alphabetical),
and where to start reading about them

All common names for conditions are included, so look for any common name. Main topics are highlighted.

Tip! You can use your web browser’s “find” feature to look on this page for keywords that might not be listed alphabetically. That also works well with the main articles directory, which lists hundreds of articles with full subtitles.

Another tip! This list shows articles to start with. Use the website search at the top of every page on the site to find all articles on the site that refers to a problem.

Site highlights for patients

My own top five picks for patients

Here are five that I really poured my heart, soul and brain into, a few of the articles I’ve written over the years that — I hope — might really make a difference for people.

  1. PS Quite a Stretch: Stretching Hype Debunked — Stretching science shows that a stretching habit isn’t doing much of what people hope Stretching is one of the most popular self-treatments in existence. That’s an awful lot of people who aren’t getting the benefits they’re hoping for.
  2. PS Your Back Is Not Out of Alignment — Debunking the obsession with alignment, posture, and other biomechanical bogeymen as major causes of pain. Somewhat heavier reading, but worthwhile: so much time and money is wasted trying to solve pain problems by thinking about them this way. It’s a particularly useful thing to understand about the world of therapy for pain.
  3. PS Why Does Pain Hurt? — How an evolutionary wrong turn led to a biological glitch that condemned the animal kingdom — you included — to much louder, longer pain. Quite a new article that goes a long way to explaining stubborn pain problems, this one is destined to be one of the best pieces on pain that I have written or ever will.
  4. PS Into the Fire — Trigger point pain as a major injury complication, and how I finally “miraculously” healed from a serious and stubborn shoulder injury by untying the muscle knots. My own experience provided an engaging way of explaining one of the most common and basic issues in rehab.
  5. PS Pain Relief from Personal Growth — Treating tough pain problems with the pursuit of emotional intelligence, life balance, and peacefulness. It’s a bit quirky, but I’ve always really loved this one. So many painful problems are basically mysterious and lack anything like a “cure” — and what do you do then? You try to change your life … and hope it helps your body.

The five most popular articles on by traffic

It’s hard to know why some articles turn into blockbusters. These are not necessarily the best articles — but they are definitely the most visited.