This month Consumer Reports is taking on an issue that has been very much in the public eye—an issue that affects every single one of us: pain. Whether you're a doctor prescribing medication or a patient in need of treatment, the choices you make can be the difference between prolonged suffering and lasting pain relief.

Whether it's a bad back, an arthritic knee, or a recurring headache, pain can be so much more than just an inconvenience—it can lead to long-term hardship, incorrect diagnoses, and even an increased risk of prescription drug overuse. And as a national dialogue about pain picks up speed, questions remain for consumers: What are the risks of my medication? How do I decide which treatments are most likely to work? Are these pills just masking my symptoms, or are they getting to the root of the problem?

Understanding the nature of pain is the first step to feeling better, which is why this month's issue takes a hard look at the many facets of pain management that consumers and medical professionals grapple with today. Of course, Consumer Reports has a long history of debunking myths and providing valuable insights in this area—not to mention offering services such as our Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs initiative, which since 2004 has equipped consumers with free information about the effectiveness, safety, and cost of medications. That unbiased analysis and information is made possible through your support.

So the next time pain strikes and you aren't sure what to reach for, you can start by reaching for Consumer Reports to find expert guidance on safe treatments, strategies to ease your suffering, and advice on getting to the root of pain to ensure your well-being.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the June 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.