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There are many all-too-common refrains when thinking of pain in the body: It’s just age… I must’ve slept wrong… I’m not sure what I did, but I’m hoping it feels better soon. With a record three out of every five Americans currently taking prescription medications – the highest number ever – it is clear that people are in pain, and a different approach is needed.

According to a recent study, pain is a significant public health problem that costs at least $560 to $635 billion annually – an amount equal to around $2,000 for each person living in the U.S – including billions of dollars lost due to reduced productivity.

According to local physiatrist Dr. Ed Nash, a certified Diplomat of the American Board of Physical Medicine, pain relief isn’t limited to pricey pills and surgery. “While it’s true that pain can seemingly come from nowhere, there are always underlying causes. When that pain limits your lifestyle in any meaningful way, it must be addressed and the real cause must be found, not just medicated,” he said.

“As a physiatrist, I look at how pain is affecting the body – not just the effects, but the causes as well,” said Dr. Nash. “I seek to find the causes of the pain, examining all areas of my patients’ lives, including work, activities, and medical issues in the past – anything that may help us find a solution.”

The major difference between seeing a physiatrist for pain management versus usual doctors is that physiatrists seek to first understand the biomechanical origin of the pain, followed by a customized, non-surgical solution for the pain. Other physicians typically rely on either medications alone or invasive surgeries that may not address the root causes. 

“Many patients will come to me with persistent, long-term issues that have been ‘treated’ by other doctors,” said Dr. Nash. “While it’s true that they are in a doctor’s care, they aren’t receiving the compassion and the understanding of the steps necessary for actually improving their conditions. This leads to months and sometimes years without any real relief, as well as thousands of dollars wasted.”

Physiatrists are seeing an uptick in patients who are looking to understand their bodies and their pain without expensive and extensive surgeries and pills. “Patients are seeking out physiatrists because our approach is more in line with how they view their own health and wellness,” said Dr. Nash. “More and more people are aware of the chemicals that they put in and on their bodies and are looking for better solutions. As a result, we are seeing patients who are more informed about their conditions and seek actual remedies, not just a short-term quick fix. Fortunately, we have the same goal in mind.”


Dr. Nash is a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, or physiatrist, based in North Houston. He specializes in treating medical conditions that can cause pain or limit functions. To learn more about Dr. Nash, visit his website at or call (281) 440-6960.

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