Painkillers Side Effects: The Problem with Pain Pills
Published on April 3, 2017
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Painkillers Side Effects: The Problem with Pain Pills

Published on April 3, 2017 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, also called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are not safe options for regular use due to painkillers’ side effects. Certainly, if you have a splitting headache once a month, and take something OTC, you are unlikely to experience any ill effects. However, many people are taking these drugs 3x a week or even daily for headaches or back pain.

Painkillers Side Effects Are Serious

  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke even in the first couple weeks of use.
  • Addiction, and dependencyPain meds can be highly addicting, especially narcotic pain medication. There is a high risk of liver damage, digestive damage, and withdrawal symptoms include nausea, body pain, headaches, dizziness, depression, and more).
  • Rebound headaches are very common with frequent OTC pain med usage (2 days a week or more). It takes anywhere from 1-3 weeks for rebound headaches to stop after ceasing pain medication.painkillers side effects
  • Liver Damage. In fact, people who regularly take a higher dose of acetaminophen than recommended (per the bottle) over a period of time to relieve pain could be at a higher risk of dying than those who take a single overdose of the drug.
  • Ulcers and Gastrointestinal bleeding. NSAIDs cause an increased risk of serious, even fatal, stomach and intestinal adverse reactions such as bleeding, ulcers, and perforation of the stomach or intestines. These events can occur at any time during treatment and without warning symptoms. Elderly patients are at greater risk for these types of reaction. The FDA no longer recommends aspirin or baby/low dose aspirin as a preventative for heart attacks.
  • Kidney damage or failure. Swelling of the legs is listed as a common painkillers side effect (in particular of NSAIDs) due to the negative effect on renal function.

Acupuncture is a Safe Alternative for Pain

Painkillers side effects make them unsafe for frequent use. Fortunately, there are safer alternatives. Acupuncture uses tiny hair-thin needles to activate the body’s natural opioid receptors, producing pain-killing endorphins. Additionally, carefully chosen acupuncture points near nerve fibers block pain signaling to the brain. Physicians and insurance companies are recommending acupuncture as a safer alternative to prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. In fact, as of 2017, the American College of Physicians recommends acupuncture, exercise, and massage as the most effective treatment for lower back pain. Acetaminophen is no more effective than placebo for improving pain or function. Don’t take the risk!

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