The Risks Associated With Pain Relievers

Young woman massaging kneeDiscover alternative therapies for pain in NJ

Pain medication statistics are alarming! In fact, from 1999 to 2013, prescription painkillers prescribed and sold in the US quadrupled, without any significant change in the amount of pain reported. Additionally, 34% of adults in the US take a minimum of one prescription drug, and 11.5% take three or more medications. Statistics on OTC (over the counter) pain relievers are also frightening – 36 million Americans use OTC painkillers daily! Sadly, more than 100,000 people are hospitalized due to OTC pain medication – and 16,000 deaths are reported annually. Perhaps they were unaware that alternative therapies for pain exist.

Many people in pain try to resolve it on their own – without a doctor visit or a prescription medication. Finance and/or time are usually the factors that send people to their local pharmacy. Some common health concerns that result in reaching for OTC pain relievers include:

  • Headache
  • Backache
  • Knee Pain
  • Neck Pain

Some OTC painkillers include:

  • Acetaminophen: Known to many as Tylenol. Unfortunately, people find themselves taking more than recommended and over time, it can damage the liver, kidneys and brain. Prolonged use of acetaminophen products account for 50% of all diagnosed cases of acute liver failure. This medication sends over 50,000 people to the emergency room and is the #1 reason for a call to the US Poison Control Center every year. An overdose may lead to a liver transplant and death.
  • NSAIDs: (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) Also known as Aleve, Advil, ibuprofen and naproxen. Long-term use is associated with gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disease and kidney failure. Complications may increase with the consumption of alcohol while taking the medication.
  • Aspirin: (Acetylsalicylate) Long-term use may result in gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers. In addition, it is the leading cause of Reye’s Syndrome – a rare but serious condition usually found in children and teenagers, which causes brain and liver swelling, and in some instances… death!

In general, all medications have side effects. When filling a prescription pain medication, reading the directions and side effects are vital, even if you discuss the medication with your doctor. Side effects of pain medication may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss/Gain
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

There is a time and place for certain medications. However, side effects of pain meds are real and other options should be considered when possible. Many options detect the cause of pain – thus allowing for a permanent solution… not a quick fix. Some of these options include:

  • Physical Therapy: Promotes healing, restores function and provides pain relief.
  • Chiropractic Care: Relieves pain, reduces muscle tightness and heals through chiropractic manipulation, ice/heat therapy, electric stimulation, ultrasound, traction, spinal decompression and massage.
  • Acupuncture: A successful choice for low back pain, osteoporosis and headaches.

In addition, if you are considering alternative therapies for pain, remember to include proper nutrition, to reduce inflammation and pain sensitivity, as well as to help remove acidic waste products from the muscles.

If you are suffering with pain, know your options and be aware of the side effects of pain relievers. When possible, seek drug-free treatments and correct the cause of pain.

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