Whether you have a headache, cramps, or muscle aches the first call of action is to remedy it as quick as you can by reaching towards your medicine cabinet and take a few Tylenol. Or if the pain is much more severe you’d be told to take codeine. Many people do this without even thinking. However, just like any medication, there are known side effects with painkillers. More importantly, painkillers may not be the best route to take to reduce your pain as it can do more harm than good to your body in the long run. Painkillers are categorized in three groups:
Paracetamols are commonly used to reduce mild or moderate pain from things such as fevers, muscle cramps, allergies, colds, and/or headaches. They are one of the first treatments for mild pain as it is typically safe for most people to take and there are very few side effects. That does not mean they should be underestimated as they can do some damage if they are misused. Side effects can include an allergic reaction, low blood pressure, blood disorders, and liver failure (this is the most severe side effect and can occur during overdoses).
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
NSAIDs are most effective for musculoskeletal pain, preventing blood clots and can reduce pain that causes inflammation such as arthritis. They are commonly used for dental pain, dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation), headache and bone pain. Because they reduce clotting action, some NSAIDS, especially aspirin, may have a protective effect against heart disease. However, you may bruise more easily. NSAIDs can increase the risk of developing nausea, an upset stomach, or an ulcer. NSAIDs also may interfere with kidney function.
Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication and are the stronger kind amongst the group of pain medications listed. It is used for relief from acute and chronic pain. Side effects include decreased alertness, dysphoria, constipation, nausea, and respiratory depression. Studies have shown that opioid drugs are not only addictive and deadly but don’t always work for patients who are seeking relief for their pain. This can lead to a cascade of health problems instead.
To combat this epidemic, we have partnered with the Old Bridge Police Department and MAPSA to bring educational seminars to the Old Bridge community on alternatives to pain medications. We encourage all to look for natural solutions to pain relief first. Consider conservative care like physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and proper nutrition to fix the root cause of your pain and avoid the prescriptions from even being written. Remember it’s not always just the patient that can get their hands on the medications!
Written by: Shruti Sen and Vincent Santorelli