By Dr. Scott Colasanti
When we are experiencing pain, whether it is a headache or a hangnail, many of us don’t think twice about reaching into the cupboard for a Tylenol or an Advil. We may think that these (OTC) medications are fairly benign, but this is not necessarily true.
The most commonly OTC drugs used for pain are acetaminophen (Tylenol), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such as Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, and aspirin. It is important to note that these medications simply reduce pain but they do not address or ‘fix’ the problem, and prolonged use may have many undesirable effects.
Acetaminophen use has been shown to be a leading cause of drug-induced liver failure, and it has also been shown to damage the kidneys. Short-term use of these medications are generally well tolerated, however there are many people who use these meds on a long-term basis and this can have devastating effects.
NSAIDS can cause GI complications like ulcers and GI bleeding. In the United States an estimated 16,500 patients in die from GI bleeding caused by NSAIDS each year. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ranks deaths due to NSAID induced GI bleeding as the 14th leading cause of death in the USA. Recent studies confirm chronic use of NSAID also increases the risk of kidney damage, liver damage, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and sudden cardiovascular death.
So how do we avoid using these medications if we have pain?
Fortunately there are some alternatives that may be quite effective. For musculoskeletal pain, chiropractic or physical therapy are very good at correcting the problem and improving healing. Some natural alternatives for inflammation and pain include essential fatty acids (in particular omega-3 fatty acids), curcumin, boswellia, ginger, white willow, to name a few. These products help reduce pain and inflammation naturally and are much safer to use than medications. Acupuncture (as discussed in previous blog) is also great for pain control.
If you would like more information about safe and natural approaches to pain, we would be pleased to discuss some options with you – please give us a call at 519-258-8544.