Health & Wellness >> Stop Pain Safely
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If you open up your medicine cabinet, your purse or your briefcase, chances are you will find at least one type of pain reliever there. From over-the-counter drugs for headaches and muscle strains to powerful pills prescribed to control pain after surgery, those drugs are everywhere. In fact, almost 80 % of adults say they take some form of pain medication at least once a week.
Determining which pain drug we actually need (I say none, but read on) and how to use it, has become an increasingly difficult decision. We’ve seen frightening headlines about many pain relievers, including some that you may have considered harmless. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration proposed that labels of products containing acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, carry stronger warnings saying that the drug could cause severe liver damage if users exceeded the recommended daily maximum dose (And yet they still allow it to be sold, which to me is perplexing, if too much causes liver damage, then any amount also leads to some level of liver stress. If the person taking the pain reliever doesn’t know this, then they are creating more health concerns with a medication that has been approved by the FDA). Even before that announcement, the maker of Tylenol reduced the maximum daily dose on Extra Strength Tylenol to 3,000 milligrams from 4,000 milligrams, and increased the dose interval from 4 to 6 hours, amid reports of increases in accidental overdoses. (So let me get this straight: There were reports of overdosing, yet instead of pulling the product completely, they simply changed the label and changed the recommended dosage and timing of the medication on the label. If one can overdose on a medication, shouldn’t they restrict its availability to prescription only? Wouldn’t that make sense? But let’s go on.)
The news on prescription pain pills is even more worrisome. As prescriptions for powerful painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone (Percoset, Vicodin, OxyContin, and generics) have shot up in recent years, there has been an increase in emergency-room visits and deaths from the illicit use of those drugs, known as opioids. Three-quarters of prescription drug overdoses (from which the death rate has more than tripled since 1990) are now attributed to painkillers. And there’s growing evidence that those drugs are being prescribed when there’re not necessarily warranted, including for such conditions as acute infections and heart problems.
In spite of all this, the need for pain relief is real. When should you self-treat with OTC drugs? When are prescription pills warranted? And how do you balance the need to feel better with the fear of taking a drug that might be addictive? Here are six tips to help you choose the best treatment.
Acetaminophen is not the only nonprescription pain medication that merits caution. Take aspirin for example: it has been made available for more than a century, but “if it were introduced today, it would be a prescription drug,” says John T. Farrar, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology, neurology, and anesthesia at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. As with other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, aspirin blocks chemicals in the body that trigger pain and inflammation. But it’s also a powerful anticlotting agent (hence its use in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes), which makes it more likely than some other OTC pain relievers to cause gastrointestinal bleeding. So unless your doctor prescribes it for a specific reason, you’re better off using another NSAID, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and generic). All work equally well against pain from arthritis and other causes (And yet, when these medications are processed through your liver and kidneys over time, they will create Chronic Kidney Failure according to the National Kidney Foundation and will cause arthritis due to the Liver stress. Read about Fish Oil at the end of this article)
Skip Acetaminophen If You Regularly Drink Alcohol
Even with the risk of an overdose, acetaminophen is generally considered safe if taken as directed. But that goes out the window when alcohol comes into the picture. Look at the label of any OTC acetaminophen product and you’ll see a warning that “severe liver damage may occur” if you drink three or more alcoholic beverages a day while taking it. And keep in mind that the number is based on standard beverage sizes. What many of us pour or are served at a bar or restaurant can be much larger. (And since most people do not take the time to read the label, having the warning is a legal defense for the company, but ideally if it is going to cause this kind of health problem when put into the hands of non-rational humans, it should not be made available without a prescription, if at all. Read about Fish Oil at the end of this article)
Don’t Take Opioid Painkillers For Longer Than Necessary
As a rule, you should consider opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone only for situations of acute pain – or if you have severe ongoing pain and other options have not worked. Even then, aim for the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time, since all opioids can cause sedation, nausea, vomiting, and constipation, and can ultimately be addicting. (That is because it is an allergic reaction affecting your gall bladder and liver and the body is telling you through your symptoms that it is the wrong thing to be doing as a solution)
That said, some research has shown that only about 5 percent of people who take opioids for a year become addicted to them. And shorter periods of use appear to pose even less risk of addiction. Of course, there are other reasons to keep your use of the drugs brief. Their safety over long periods hasn’t been well established, and a recent study found that the risk of developing depression increases significantly when opioids are used for more than 90 days. (That is because they are suppressing your liver and your gall bladder, assuming you can tolerate then at all, and a by-product of liver and gall bladder suppression is depression. Therefore, consider reading the article on Fish Oil at the end)
Prescription-strength NSAIDs are first line agents for what’s called nociceptive pain – when an injury such as a deep cut or a burn sends pain through nerve endings. Even in relatively high doses, those drugs don’t pose a risk of dependency. Drugs prescribed for widespread nerve-related pain due to diabetes or fibromyalgia – such as the older antidepressants amitriptyline, the newer antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta and generic), and the anti-seizure drug gabapentin (Neurontin and generic)—generally aren’t habit forming. But duloxetine can increase the risk of bleeding if used with NSAIDs or aspirin, and stopping it may cause dizziness, headaches, insomnia, or anxiety. Gabapentin can cause weight gain, back or joint pain, depression, or extreme fatigue. Suicidal thoughts can be a side-effect of both drugs. (And yet, they are still being sold and there is no regard for the loss of life or the killing that goes on as a result of taking these medications. Read about Fish Oil at the end of this article)
Don’t Combine the Same Type of Pain Relievers
But mixing certain types might be OK, experts say. For example, say you have a splitting headache and took Tylenol, but it is not helping. Try taking a dose of naproxen. The two drugs work differently and have different side-effects, so you won’t double the possible risks by combining them. But avoid mixing two of the same kinds of medication – such as taking ibuprofen when you’ve already taken the similar drug naproxen. (Are they serious? Because the side-effects, which is an indication the medication is not the proper solution for YOUR body, are different, that makes it OK to combine then? Seriously? Read the article on Fish Oil at the end of this)
Read the Label, Always
It might not be obvious from the name on the package which drugs are in the product. For example, you might not realize that hundreds of OTC cold-and-sinus medications contain a pain-relieving and fever-reducing ingredient, usually acetaminophen, in addition to a decongestant. So if you take, say, a cold-and-sinus product and then take Tylenol PM (which contains acetaminophen in addition to a sleep-inducing antihistamine) to help you sleep, you might exceed the daily limit of acetaminophen. (And that requires a person to pay attention to all the dosing information and if the person can be rational and think clearly in the midst of their pain and medication already taken. Not an exact science and therefore seems ridiculous to consider. Read the article on Fish Oil at the end)
Your body produces pain for a reason. It is designed to let you know you have gone off course in your life and created some damage inside as a result of being off course. If you do either long enough or violently enough to produce a greater than 60 % loss of normal communication between your brain and your body it will result in pain. Also important to consider is your body also produces 2 types of hormones: Inflammatory and Anti-inflammatory. The first is in response to injury or damage and the second one is in response to the first as a way to return the body back to balance or homeostasis. So if your body has the ability to produce its own anti-inflammatory hormones as well as its own anti pain hormones, it becomes a question of what is the body lacking in order to produce its own anti-inflammatory and anti pain hormones.
When it comes to pain, your Medical Doctor has just the prescription. It may be one prescription, it may be more than one. You may use one for a period of time, and when that demonstrates it is becoming ineffective for you or becomes toxic to you, your doctor may prescribe a new medication. And this is the standard of care in the US. Appreciate that the only other solution Medicine has to offer is life altering surgery. Perhaps this may be necessary in some cases, but if you have been put on medication that causes your liver to become toxic over time (that's why they need to do periodic blood tests) and this leads to more and more joint destruction, then the answer medicine is offering by recommending life long pain killers is really a recipe for future surgery. Consider this when making your choice for your health concern.
There is a revolutionary technique called Neurological Relief Centers Technique (NRCT). It can be found at www.nrc.md and you will find several video testimonials of people who have benefited from this ground breaking technique. Practiced by Holistic Chiropractors and acupuncturists who have taken the training, you can have a FREE Test to determine if this technique is going to help you end your pain naturally.
Dr. Huntoon is Certified in this technique and has helped stop pain for many of his Practice Members. Click on this link to see a real life patient from his office.
Appreciating what the body needs in the way of food as a base for developing anti-inflammatory hormones or anti-pain hormones requires a basic understanding of fat metabolism. See, if you didn’t know, proper dietary fat is necessary for both pro-inflammatory hormones and anti-inflammatory hormones. Fats come in 3 varieties: A Fats from vegetables promote anti-inflammation/pain; B Fats from animal sources promote inflammation and pain; C Fats from nuts/seeds and seafood promote anti-inflammation and pain. In association with the A and C Fats is required the following co-factors: Vitamins B6, niacin, and vitamin C, low doses of vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and calcium, Black Currant Seed Oil, and Fish Oil.
Factors that inhibit the production of anti-inflammatory/pain properties in the body are Hydrogenated Fats, excess B (animal) fats, stress, excess carbohydrates, sugar, low protein diet, cigarette smoke or a fever. Therefore, if you experience lots of these inhibitors, your body will produce more inflammation and pain than it can counteract because the anti-inflammatory hormones will not be manufactured.
Fish Oil contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and is chemically termed Omega 3 fats. In order for a body to make the necessary anti-inflammatory components to fight inflammation and pain, the body needs the fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is then converted to EPA and finally the end product, a prostaglandin that promotes anti-inflammation. By eating fish oil, the EPA already exists and therefore can be converted directly to the prostaglandin that promotes anti-inflammation. Depending on the amount of inflammation you have, you may need a good dosage for a period of time before your anti-inflammatory/anti-pain hormones can kick in. When I had shingles in my face, it took 20 fish-oil capsules a day for about 2 1/2 weeks before all the symptoms went away. Consider that when being patient for your symptoms/pain to go away.
If you have questions, please feel free to ask. I am here to help.
Click the link for a description of this week's show and a link to the podcast from:
Advanced Alternative Medicine Center
Serving All Your Heath Care Needs ... Naturally!
Dr. Richard A. Huntoon