Over-the-Counter Pain Relief Risks and Benefits
Analgesics reduce pain, but do not reduce inflammation. Examples of analgesics include:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an OTC analgesic. Taking high doses (>3,000mg = 6 Extra strength Tylenol per day) of acetaminophen for a long time can lead to liver damage or liver failure. This can be fatal (cause death).
- Aspirin (Bayer, St. Joseph)
- Naproxen sodium and naproxen (Aleve) (OTC and prescription strengths).
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol, Nuprin) (OTC and prescription strengths). In addition to the side-effects listed above, Ibuprofen can also cause heart attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking the smallest dose that works for you and only taking it for up to 10 days.
- Diclofenac (Zorvolex, Voltaren) (OTC and prescription strengths). Diclofenac-misoprostol (Arthrotec) combines diclofenac with a drug to protect against stomach ulcers but side effects still include: stomach pain, diarrhea and nausea.
- (Cortef, A-Hydrocort, Hydrocortone). Low-dosage topical steroids are available OTC. Like NSAIDs, corticosteroids (or steroids) reduce inflammation, however they also suppress the immune system, constrict blood vessels and suppress the growth of new cells. Side effects (with overuse) include skin thinning (atrophy), stretch marks (striae) in armpits or groin, easy bruising (senile/solar purpura) and tearing of the skin and enlarged blood vessels (telangiectasia)
- Capsaicin (Capzasin, Zostrix, Icy Hot). Derived from cayenne peppers, this OTC drug comes as an ointment. Side effects can include severe burning, pain, swelling, or blistering of the skin.
- Methyl salicylate and menthol (Bengay). This drug cream is made from mint plants and also contains a topical aspirin-like NSAID. Side effects can include redness, warmth, stinging, or burning of the skin.
- Trolamine salicylate (Aspercreme). This topical cream contains an aspirin-like drug that relieves inflammation and pain. Side effects can include blistering, peeling, redness, irritation of the skin as well as nausea/vomiting or ringing in the ears.
- Lidocaine cream is local anesthetic (numbing medication). It works by blocking nerve signals in your body. Side effects can include redness, stinging, and swelling of the skin.
Pain relief medications are not a cure, nor do they get to the root cause. Talk to Dr. Kelley about how chiropractic can remove pain at its source. Call 843 321-8119 or schedule online now.