We’ve all experienced pain at some point that we’ve tried to alleviate with an over-the-counter pain reliever. We think “It’s just one aspirin, it’s not a big deal.” But then a week or two later, we have another pain, and end up reaching for the bottle again. “It’s just one pill! Not a big deal!”
Did you know that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other over-the-counter pain relievers regularly for aches and pains is not always as safe as you think? Regular use of these medications also does not address the underlying causes of your pain – it only temporarily masks it.
Fortunately, there is a much safer, more permanent solution for effective pain relief: physical therapy. To learn more about this alternative method to pain management, call our office to schedule your appointment today. Let our physical therapists do a full assessment of your condition to find out how you can ditch the over-the-counter pain meds for good.
What are OTC pain relievers?
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers fall into one of two general categories, depending on what they do and the effects they may have on your body.
- Acetaminophen – Like many opioid pain medications, OTC drugs such as Tylenol work by preventing pain signals from reaching pain receptors in the brain. Drugwatch states that “Liver damage is the most serious side effect of acetaminophen and it can be fatal. Liver damage can occur when a person exceeds the maximum daily dose of 4,000 milligrams — but it’s also been known to occur in some people at even lower doses.”
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – Drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen decrease the amount of certain pain-producing hormones in your body. They also have the added benefit of reducing inflammation in the body.
Why are OTC pain relievers so dangerous?
Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs are effective pain relievers and fever reducers, but both have side effects that are common with prolonged or inappropriate use. Both can damage the kidneys with excessive use and NSAIDs also carry the risk of stomach ulcers and internal bleeding. You’d think these threats would make a person cut down on the amount they’re taking, but that doesn’t always happen, especially if someone deals with chronic pain.
Choose PT states that the risks of opioid use far outweigh the benefits.
“Potential side effects of opioids include depression, overdose, and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use.” Opioids should not be considered the first route of treatment or or routine therapy for chronic pain.
One study found that 55 percent of people take an OTC pain medication at least three days per week, and 15 percent of those people would go over the recommended daily limit of the medication. Their excuse? They know what dosage is correct for them, regardless of what the bottle recommends. This is far from the truth.
These medications also fail to address the underlying problem causing your pain and discomfort. Essentially, they are temporary band-aids for a larger problem. It is only when you address the structural and functional problems that you begin to experience permanent pain relief without relying on medications – prescription or otherwise.
How can physical therapy help me avoid pain management drugs?
Make no mistake – OTC medications do play an important role in the recovery process after surgery or an injury. However, they must be coupled with physical therapy in order to be truly effective. You cannot rely on them alone.
Physical therapy can help a variety of conditions that people tend to lean on medication to relieve, including headaches, neck pain, hip and knee pain, and low back pain.
Physical therapists are experts at uncovering the underlying cause of your aches and pains and addressing them in ways that help your body to move better. After an initial evaluation and diagnostic testing at our clinic, a physical therapist will be able to determine the true source of your pain and how physical therapy can help you to combat it.
Once your physical therapist understands the cause of your pain, they can prescribe specific therapies to address it. These might include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat, and massage therapy. These techniques are used to relieve pain, while functional exercise and stretching may be used to strengthen weak areas of your body and increase range of motion.
A physical therapist’s ultimate goal is to restore function while relieving pain. They can help you get back on your feet and living your life with minimal use of OTC pain relievers.
Call our office for more information
Do you struggle with nagging chronic pain that you’ve been trying to manage with OTC medications? Are you curious if physical therapy is right for you? Call our office today and schedule an appointment with our physical therapist. The only thing you have to lose are your aches and pains, and possibly your dependence on medications!