Most over-the-counter medications come with serious side effects especially if they are taken for a lengthy time as would be necessary for chronic pain. Find out if you are at risk
While some health problems last for only a few days or a few weeks, others last for months and years, and some even last for the rest of your life. Of these, one of the most misunderstood chronic issues that is incredibly difficult to deal with is chronic pain. This can be a debilitating health problem that leaves you with many side effects, such as anxiety and even insomnia. You may find it difficult to cope in your everyday life and may find that your work and your relationships suffer because you cannot invest enough time in them.
Sadly, chronic pain is an oft-misunderstood problem. Many people brush off your symptoms thinking that you should be able to handle them on your own. They may tell you to just “take a Motrin,” never realizing that a Motrin or another over-the-counter pain reliever may not even take the edge off your pain. Plus, most over-the-counter medications come with serious side effects especially if they are taken for a lengthy time as would be necessary for chronic pain.
Even you may be struggling to know how to deal with your pain. Your doctor may not fully understand the root of your issue, and the two of you may not have been able to come to a mutual agreement as to what would work for you. You should particularly beware of over-the-counter medications because many of these medications come with NSAID side effects that may leave you with worse problems than you already have.
To make a good decision for yourself, you should work closely with a trusted doctor who specializes in chronic pain management. In addition, you should educate yourself about this condition as well as the possible treatments for it and their side effects.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that will not go away within 12 weeks. Acute pain is usually short-lasting and is often related to a specific injury. While acute pain tells your body that something is wrong, chronic pain is an upsetting and confusing condition because it may persist despite the fact that nothing is noticeably wrong with your body.
Chronic pain may be related to repetitive injuries, arthritis or joint disease. It can also come along with Lyme disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disease, endometriosis or fibromyalgia. You could even have chronic headaches, muscle aches or back pain.
While chronic pain may be related to physical problems, such as issues with the nerve fibers in the body, it can also be a mental problem. Eventually, your pain may be a natural response similar to a habit that has worked its way into your life. Thus, you may continue to feel the pain even after your body has healed and the physical pain has decreased.
What Can Be Done for Chronic Pain?
You will need to work together with your doctor to find a good solution for your chronic pain. This will usually have to be a long-term relationship because you will continue to need treatment or therapy to enjoy high quality of life. Medications are often a major part of chronic pain relief, but you will need to be very careful with what you take. Of course, any good chronic pain treatment will include more than just painkillers.
What Are the Most Commonly Used Medications for Chronic Pain?
Because medications are the most common treatment for chronic pain, it is important that you recognize the different categories of pain relievers that your doctor may discuss with you. NSAIDS are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that decrease pain associated with inflammation in your body. Your doctor may also discuss opioids with you. However, these stronger medications are often not used by many doctors any more because of the serious repercussions with opioid overdose.
Thankfully, there are other stronger medications, both natural and prescription, that are better-suited for chronic pain relief. Anti-depressants, anti-seizure drugs and even muscle relaxants can help you find long-term relief from the physical and mental symptoms of chronic pain.
On the other hand, if you have not seen a physician for your chronic pain, you may be tempted to self-medicate with medications that you can easily get at any local drugstore. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances may even have recommended some to you, but you should know the benefits and risks of each drug before you take it.
The most common type of pain reliever that you will find at your drugstore is the over the counter anti inflammatory. These usually contain either ibuprofen or naproxen sodium and are often marketed under the Advil, Motrin or Aleve brands although store brands will have the same generic ingredients. Acetaminophen, marketed as Tylenol, is another common option. However, it is not an over the counter anti inflammatory but is instead a basic oral analgesic.
What Are the Side Effects of Over-the-Counter Pain Medications?
You should be aware of all of the possible NSAID side effects that you could experience before taking any of these drugs. This will help you make a wise decision. While the benefits of these drugs might outweigh their risks if you are only planning to take them for a short period, the possible side effects are really too high to overlook for long-term use.
Ibuprofen side effects, which come from such drugs as Advil and Motrin, can be particularly dangerous especially to your gastrointestinal system. When taken for long periods or at maximum dosages, Motrin and Advil side effects include nausea, stomach pain, stomach ulcers and bleeding throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
In addition, Advil and Motrin side effects may also extend to the cardiovascular system. When taken long term for chronic problems, they may eventually lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes according to studies done within the past two decades. In fact, if you look at your over-the-counter NSAID container, you will probably see a warning about heart attacks and strokes directly on it.
Some people also deal with high blood pressure when taking these NSAIDs. This increased blood pressure may not even be noticeable to you unless you get your blood pressure checked regularly. However, this hidden symptom can lead to major heart damage and chronic heart disease, such as congestive heart failure, over time. It may even cause kidney damage from the high pressures in the tiny blood vessels within the kidneys. The older you are, the more dangerous and widespread these possible side effects may become. In addition, your chance of side effects increases if you already have other chronic health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease or a history of stomach ulcers or acid reflux.
Another common side effect is allergic reactions, including skin reactions, which are also listed as a possibility on the side of your medication bottle. While some allergic reactions may show up right away and result in a trip to the emergency room for help with breathing or other issues, some allergic reactions may build over time as you develop a sensitivity to NSAIDs. Approximately 2 percent of people develop an NSAID sensitivity, which may lead to bronchospasms, fluid retention and swelling and even anaphylactic shock.
Other more common side effects may include the following:
-Diarrhea or constipation
-A bloated feeling
As you can see, ibuprofen side effects are many. Thus, you should look for a better and stronger option for your chronic pain with the help of your doctor.
Are There Better Solutions for Chronic Pain?
Today, there are many other solutions for chronic pain that do not leave you with Motrin or Advil side effects. Your specialist or the pain clinic that you visit will help you look into other solutions, such as massage, physical therapy or even transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Some patients do very well with group or individual counseling, biofeedback or meditation. Other more serious cases may require spinal cord stimulation or surgery.
Your doctor is the ideal person to help you determine what would be best for treating your chronic pain. Do not be fooled into turning to over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs that may leave you feeling even worse. Remember that Advil and Motrin side effects can be debilitating and long-lasting. Instead, turn to stronger medications and other proven non-medicinal treatments that can get you long-term relief and return you to as high of a quality of life as is possible.