There is no such thing as a free lunch.
This slogan began when bars started offering free lunches to workers.
But the offering was food covered in salt, which naturally meant thirsty customers.
You ended up paying for your “free” lunch with a hefty bar tab.
When you try to stop pain with some sort of pharmaceutical, you end up paying for this relief with other problems.
There are inherent risks with the use of nearly every pain killer if used for an extended period of time even those which are sold over the counter.
Types of Pain Killers
Pain medications are drugs used to relieve discomfort associated with disease, injury, or surgery.
Because the pain process is complex, there are many types of pain drugs that provide relief by acting through a variety of physiological mechanisms.
Thus, effective medication for nerve pain will likely have a different mechanism of action than arthritis pain medication.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) act on substances in the body that can cause inflammation, pain, and fever.
- Corticosteroids are often administered as an injection at the site of musculoskeletal injuries. They exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects. They can also be taken orally to relieve pain from, for example, arthritis.
- Acetaminophen increases the body’s pain threshold, but it has little effect on inflammation.
- Opioids, also known as narcotic analgesics, modify pain messages in the brain.
- Muscle relaxants reduce pain from tense muscle groups, most likely through sedative action in the central nervous system.
- Anti-anxiety drugs work on pain in three ways: they reduce anxiety, they relax muscles, and they help patients cope with discomfort.
- Some antidepressants, particularly the tricyclics, may reduce pain transmission through the spinal cord.
- Some anticonvulsant drugs also relieve the pain of neuropathies, possibly by stabilizing nerve cells.
One major difference between anti-inflammatories and opioid analgesics is that the former has a “ceiling effect” — that is, continuous dose escalation does not provide concomitant escalation in pain relief.
One reason opioids are so useful in the treatment of chronic pain is that as tolerance to a dose develops, the dose can be raised.
In fact, there is no limit to how high opioid dosing can go – keeping in mind that higher doses can be associated with unpleasant and/or even dangerous side effects.
The Down Side
Ibuprofen and Naproxen: Increase chance of heart attack, as well as kidney problems.
Aspirin: Stomach bleeding if taken for too long.
Tylenol: When taken with alcohol, major liver damage can result.
Opioids and prescription pain killers: High dependency risk which has led to nearly 500,000 deaths in the last two decades.
All painkillers carry risks — even OTC ones — but it’s the narcotic painkillers that carry the highest risk of addiction.
Consequently, painkillers can be harmful, especially when taken incorrectly.
Painkiller abuse kills a substantial number of Americans each year, and this doesn’t count accidental overdoses and medical catastrophes.
That said, Americans have a love affair with painkillers, and their use has bloomed since the early 1990s as more people can get hold of these relatively cheap drugs.
Narcotic painkillers remain a front-line defense against pain, and this means they’re routinely prescribed after major surgeries.
Additionally, because many believe that the fact that the drug comes from a doctor means it’s safe and nonaddictive, the risk of addiction to these drugs increases.
Long-term addiction is usually preceded by tolerance to the drug, which means you feel as though you need a regular supply of the drug.
The reason isn’t usually to reduce the effects of pain, however.
The reason is because you start to suffer from the effects of withdrawal when treatment is stopped.
This manifests itself as pain and flu-like symptoms.
It might include headaches, nausea, general soreness, and even random spasms.
You may also find that your relationships with others are compromised as a result of the addiction.
Generally, the definition of addiction means you keep having to take the drug despite the negative effects of it.