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Pain Medications and Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

NSAIDsNon-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are a type of medication that provides analgesic (pain-killing) and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects. The most well known NSAIDs are aspirin (Bayer®), ibuprofen (Motrin®), and naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®), which are available over the counter in most countries.

Millions of people use NSAIDs daily for spinal stenosis, sciatica, low back pain, migraines and headaches, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain, mid-back pain, menstrual cramping, joint pain, and many other symptoms. They are one of the most commonly used over the counter medications but few understand the risks associated with regular and long term use.

Common Side Effects of Pain Killers (NSAIDs)

Common side effects for NSAIDS include: nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness, rash, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. The FDA warns that regular use of NSAIDs can increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Regular use of NSAIDs is also associated with erectile dysfunction, according to a study reported in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Urology.

Reye's (Ryes) Syndrome

AspirinAspirin has been linked to Reye's (Ryes) syndrome, which is a serious condition that causes swelling in the brain and liver. While it is rare, Reye’s syndrome most commonly affects children and teenagers that are recovering from a viral infection and who may also have a metabolic disorder.

Symptoms of Reye’s, such as confusion, seizures and loss of consciousness require emergency treatment. Early diagnosis of these signs, and treatment of Reye's syndrome can save a child's life.

It is extremely important to use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers, even though aspirin has been approved for children older than age 2. Children and teenagers recovering from flu-like symptoms or chickenpox should never take aspirin.

NSAIDs used in conjunction with antibiotics can cause adverse central nervous system effects including seizures. With extended use of NSAIDs, Gastro-Intestinal (GI) issues can also arise such as GI bleeds, ulcers, dyspepsia (indigestion), kidney problems, and liver damage.

The July 1998 issue of The American Journal of Medicine stated the following:

"Conservative calculations estimate that approximately 107,000 patients are hospitalized annually for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)-related gastrointestinal (GI) complications and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone. The figures of all NSAID users would be overwhelming, yet the scope of this problem is generally under-appreciated."

A year later (June 1999) in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, there is a similar statement:

"It has been estimated conservatively that 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis every year in the United States. This figure is similar to the number of deaths from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and considerably greater than the number of deaths from multiple myeloma, asthma, cervical cancer, or Hodgkin's disease. If deaths from gastrointestinal toxic effects from NSAIDs were tabulated separately in the National Vital Statistics reports, these effects would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the United States. Yet these toxic effects remain mainly a "silent epidemic," with many physicians and most patients unaware of the magnitude of the problem. Furthermore, the mortality statistics do not include deaths ascribed to the use of over-the-counter NSAIDS."

Side Effects of NSAIDs Include

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Constipation
  • Death
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspepsia (Indigestion)
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal Bleeding
  • Increased Risk Of Heart Attack And Stroke
  • Kidney Problems
  • Liver Damage
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting

Pills & Medicine: It seems there is always a side effect!

Lady with a headacheWe see it everyday — a commercial for a pill promising to take care of whatever problem we have, but with a list of side effects that seems worse than the initial problem! Should I take 6 of these when I only need to take 2 of these?

Yet, pain killers have become a way of life for many people. We take them when we have a headache, are sore from sitting at work, feel aches, have a sore back or sore muscles. We take them for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. We take them without thinking.

Much of the pain we experience, such as sciatica, back pain, neck pain, headaches, spinal stenosis, and more, are actually signs of an underlying problem that needs to be corrected. Yet, the tendency is to reach for a pill instead of correcting the problem. When we take a pill instead of correcting the problem we are just hoping the problem will go away. In reality, the vast majority will not go away — they just get worse. We then compound the problem by taking even more pills. Our bodies start to build up a tolerance for these pills, and soon we are looking for even stronger pills.

Pain Medicines (NSAIDs) are not Correcting Your Problems

When the bones in your spine are misaligned and or not moving properly (spinal subluxations), it will lead to inflammation in the spinal joints and adjacent supportive tissues resulting in many of the conditions listed above; back pain, neck pain, headaches, sciatica, etc. If these spinal misalignments are not corrected, they will lead to degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. So until the underlying spinal problem is corrected, the NSAID medications are only hiding or masking the symptoms of inflammation not correcting the problem.

Chiropractic Care is the Drug-Free Solution

As chiropractors our goal is to find the underlying cause of the inflammation and pain and correct it. If a spinal problem creating inflammation is not corrected it will lead to chronic degenerative disease and ultimately to surgery.

Subluxations are misalignments of the bones in the spine that create inflammation and put pressure on and interfere with the nervous system. The nervous system is the system that controls and coordinates everything in the body. When there is pressure on the nerves and nervous system, it will lead to dysfunction and often pain. The goal of chiropractic is to correct the subluxation to allow the nervous system to function effectively and to promote optimal health and wellness. Chiropractic adjustments/treatment decreases inflammation and the effects of inflammation.

It is important that people realize NSAIDs were created for short-term use and are only masking the symptoms rather than correcting the underlying cause, which is typically a subluxation (misalignment) of the spine. Of course, there is a time and a place for NSAID use with the understanding that finding the cause of the symptom should be a top priority for both you and your doctor.

If you are looking for alternatives to medications and surgeries for symptomatic relief and ultimately correction, please contact the doctors of Kempsville Chiropractic, 757.467.5258, and arrange for a consultation. If you know of others who can benefit from this article, please share and recommend this article.

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These articles are the property of Kempsville Chiropractic. They may not be reused without permission. You are welcome to link to this article. Kempsville Chiropractic has been proudly serving Virginia Beach, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia since 1996.

The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.

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