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An increasing interest in pain is reflected in the growing number of books about it. Some recent offerings:

"Back Sense" by Ronald D. Siegel, Michael H. Urdang and Douglas R. Johnson ($12.95, Broadway Books). This book offers a self-treatment approach to chronic back pain "based on conclusive evidence proving that stress and inactivity are usually the prime offenders." The three authors — Siegel is a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School, Urdang has a master's degree in counseling psychology and Johnson is a physician in Massachusetts — are all former chronic back-pain sufferers.

"Pain Free for Women" by Pete Egoscue with Roger Gittines ($24.95, Bantam). Egoscue, a San Diego anatomical functionalist and author of "Pain Free," presents alignment, posture and muscle-engagement exercises he says can alleviate not only chronic pain but also symptoms associated with other conditions, including PMS, allergies, chronic fatigue and depression.

"Women and Pain" ($24.95, Hyperion). Mark Allen Young and Karen Baar present new research showing women experience pain differently than men. The authors identify and explain a variety of chronic ailments (hormonal, bone-related, neural, psychological, sports-related) and suggest conventional and alternative medicines, dietary strategies, mind-body approaches and exercises that might help. Young is an M.D. and specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, a member of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a licensed acupuncturist.

"Erasing Pain" ($24.95, St. Martin's Press). Matthew H.M. Lee and Mary Bezkor, M.D.s from the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in New York, answer questions patients have asked about pain and continue the Q-and-A approach in an overview of specific problems from abdominal pain to withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.

- "Your Pain is Real" ($25, ReganBooks). Emile Hiesiger and Kathleen Brady address the mysteries of chronic pain; controlling pain with and without medication or surgery; conditions affecting the head and neck; muscles, bones and joints; as well as back, nerve and sports-injury pain. Hiesiger, a pain-management specialist, is clinical associate professor of neurology and radiology at New York University School of Medicine.

- "Beyond Aspirin" by Thomas M. Newmark and Paul Schulick ($14.95, Hohm Press). The authors question the safety of the new anti-inflammatory medications known as COX-2 inhibitors (such as Celebrex and Vioxx) and offer a variety of herbal therapies as alternatives.

- "Instant Healing" ($21.95, Renaissance Books). Serge Kahili King explains how to use the power of words, imagination, touch and energy to treat a variety of ailments, from headaches to backaches to depression and even hangovers.

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