Around Our Town...To Your Health
Understanding the Risk
04/01/2006 - Hello again! I hope you may have found last month's information interesting. I am sure some are asking what I am trying to get at. What I am trying to get across is that over the counter NSAIDS (ibuprofen examples-Advil, Motrin) as well as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) are short term pain relievers. You should not pop them in your mouth indiscriminately for every little discomfort or malady you may have. Chronic usage (does not have to be daily) will affect your liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. An interesting note I found was that if you need to see a specialist for chronic usage they may find that you already have significant damage to the organs. (Yikes!)
So when should you take them? If the condition was caused by a sudden fall or you twisted your back or slept wrong and you have spasms and pain these would be excellent examples of reasons for usage. However if your pain is persistent or you have frequent recurring episodes you need to get evaluated. My patients have told me that they will take pain relievers before they work out or run so they are not as sore afterwards. That's nice, but if you work out regularly that's a lot of usage of pain relievers. Remember this stuff damages microscopically and over time it will add up. If you are under medical supervision for a chronic pain condition it is because monitoring is needed so damage can be minimized as much as possible.
Do we have options? If you can understand what you have and how it effects your body then you can understand your pain. Conditions such as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, or residual pain from accidents will lead to chronic discomfort. Now if you can understand these things then you can make a better game plan to deal with your pain. Other doctors have had patients come into their offices with preconceived ideas of how they can help themselves, "Doc I know I need to lose 20 Ibs.", "I don't eat right", and "I don't exercise". What does this have to do with chronic pain situations you may ask? Believe it or not weight, diet and exercise can help reduce (Key Word) your pain levels and episodes, not to mention different forms of therapy.
I want to steer this conversation into a new direction in terms of how you can help these chronic pain issues and how you can develop a game plan to hopefully significantly reduce your intake of NSAIDS as well as Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Don't give up on these ideas and take the meds and worry about the consequences later. The consequences (kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal problems) will come and, guess what, you still will have the problem, only now compounded. If you are taking these medications too much and don't want to learn how to help yourself, get under medical supervision. If you want to start helping yourself reduce the dependency on these stay tuned for next month's issue.