Health Crush Contributor
The following information is provided by our partner, LowestMed
Finding safe options for pain relief is a big priority for many people. The National Center for Health Statistics said that approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours.
Consumer Reports recently conducted a survey of 3,562 people, with back pain, who tried five or more treatments to find pain relief. The treatments included OTC pain meds and prescription pain relief medications. The results of the survey found that it is common for people to turn to powerful opioids, if they don’t find an over the counter anti-inflammatory or less potent pain reliever. Fifty-seven percent of back pain sufferers, in the Consumer Reports survey, turned to powerful opioids.
Many people are cautious when being presented with the option of powerful opioids and are curious about what pain relievers can minimize the risks of side effects that can come with powerful opioids.
Common options for pain relief medications and how to use them.
Over the Counter Anti-inflammatory Pain Relievers
Anti-inflammatory medications are generally used as pain relievers, for symptoms like headaches, migraines, and muscle aches.
Many over-the-counter pain relievers include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen contain NSAID. There are versions of NSAID medications that are available in prescription-only forms – celecoxib and diclofenac.
It is recommended that you take the lowest dose of NSAID drugs, for the shortest period of time. You should consult your physician, if you plan to treat pain with NSAID drugs for longer than 10 days.
Available over-the-counter, acetaminophen is in brands like Tylenol, as well as generic versions of certain pain relievers. Acetaminophen is best used for mild to moderate pain – things like headaches and osteoarthritis. Acetaminophen is said to not be as effective as OTC drugs, such as NSAID ibuprofen. It is much easier on the stomach though. Acetaminophen is more beneficial to those experiencing acid reflux and ulcers.
Consumer Reports suggests individuals take no more than 3,250 mg of acetaminophen a day. Taking more than the recommended amount or mixing the medication with alcohol, can damage the liver.
Common opioid medications are fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Doctors usually prescribe opioids as a pain reliever after surgery and major injuries.
It is recommended that the lowest dose of opioids should be taken. Opioids have the potential to be highly addictive for some individuals. Talk to your physician about non-opioid alternatives, if your pain exists after a few days of taking opioid pain relievers.
What are some natural pain relievers?
There have been studies, conducted by the National Institute of Health, that have concluded exercise is an effective way to manage chronic pain in the lower back. When working out, the body produces its own version of painkillers, in endorphins. Studies show that endorphins can change the brain’s perception of pain.
2. Fish Oil
Omega-3 fatty acids have been identified as a way to reduce pain. In a study, omega-3 fatty acids mirrored the effects of ibuprofen, in reducing arthritic pain. The study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, found that Omega-3 fish oil supplements appear to be a safer alternative to NSAIDs for treatment of neck or back pain.
It is believed that turmeric may help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A study of individuals who consumed an Ayurveda formula of herbs and minerals with turmeric, winter cherry, boswellia, and zinc, had less pain and disability. It’s unclear whether turmeric was the main contributor to the pain relief or if it was the combination of all the ingredients.
4. Heat Therapy
Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health, concluded that application of thermos-therapy (heat therapy), accompanied by prescription treatment, could possibly relieve pain in patients with acute low back pain.
Some studies conclude that mindful meditation, which is a mind-body intervention, combining focused attention on the breath with a reduction in the awareness of external sensation and consequent thoughts, has been shown to be potentially effective when it comes to managing and relieving pain.