Choose Your Pain Relief Carefully

Pain. It can be overwhelming, and relief needs to be immediate. When discomfort gets hard to tolerate, most of us grab the first thing on the shelf of the medicine cabinet without thinking and herein lies the problem. Pain relievers are drugs, and like all other drugs, they need to be considered carefully before we take them. According to experts, many of the pains relievers in our medicine cabinets may be doing more harm than good. Here are what some of them are saying about NSAIDs and why other options should be on hand before pain hits.

Do Pain Relievers Put Us At Risk?
NSAIDS or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs have been coming under fire lately for having the potential for cardiac risk. These drugs are commonly taken for relief of a variety of pain types, including headaches, muscle, Ibuprofen and joint aches. Examples include over the counter agents, such as Advil, Ibuprofen, alive, and Naproxen, while prescription varieties include Celecoxib and Celebrex. However, while former studies showed increased risk of heart attack, more recent ones reveal that the danger is more commonly associated with people who take the drugs regularly.

Studies reveal a two to fourfold increase in the risk of myocardial infractions for habitual NSAID users. That means that 25 to 50 patients would need to take NSAIDs for a whole year to cause one event of a stroke or heart attacks. However, because the use of the drugs is so popular, and many of the users are seniors who are already at risk for heart disease there is a cause for concern.

Highest Risk
The highest risk seems to come from taking over 750 mg of Naproxen or 1200 mg of Ibuprofen. Does this size is taken regularly carry a risk for GI bleeds, kidney injury, and stomach ulcers, in addition to cardiac risk.

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Thing to Keep In Mind
If you are young and in good health, your chances of cardiovascular complications caused by NSAIDs are small.

If you are currently at risk for heart disease, NSAIDs can increase the risk.

If you need to take NSAIDs on a regular basis, you should discuss the risks and possible alternatives with a health professional.

NSAID Alternatives
Because there is no one size fits all answer to pain relief, it is probably best to create a “Pain Plan” with your doctor or pharmacist. Considering the recent efforts to cut down on the use of opioids and increase the use of NSAIDs for arthritis treatment, careful decision making needs to go into picking the right pain relief.

While Tylenol, which is not a NSAID, is often a good pain relieving option, there are also no medication relief alternatives, such as the use of heat or ice, depending on the conditions. Although it is still safe for many patients to take NSAIDs, it is important to be aware of recommended dosages and the frequency of taking them. Experts recommend that no medication remedies, such as heat, massage, stretching, ice, and other forms of physical therapies be kept in consideration until more information is known.

Are you trading in your NSAIDs for other options? Let us know if you are and what they are.

Aspirin in woman's hand

This OTC Drug May Increase Your Risk Of Heart Attack

Pain. Barring the occasional UFC fighter, most of us have a very low tolerance for it. In fact, the majority of us want to rid ourselves of it as soon as possible. Luckily, pharmaceutical companies have long recognized the public outcry for quick and effective pain relief, and, as such, there is no shortage of accessible drugs and medications designed to stop every burning, aching, throbbing, and stinging sensation as soon as it hits. However, historically, when a product is in such demand, consumers are often not that particular about the risks involved, and pharmaceutical companies are not likely to highlight them. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the hidden dangers of a common OTC.

NSAIDs
The FDA is set to begin a program of strengthening existing warnings on Drug Facts labels to indicate that NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Over the counter NSAIDs are generally used to treat aches and pains and reduce fever. Common examples include ibuprofen, like Advil and Motrin, and naproxen.like Aleve. Some combination medications, like multi-symptom cold relievers, may also contain NSAIDs. According to Karen Mahoney, MD, and deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, “Be careful not to take more than one product that contains an NSAID at a time.” She suggests checking the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label to determine whether or not the product contains an NSAID.

Woman reading labels on her medicine

New Information
NSAIDs already provide information on stroke and heart attack risk on their labels; the FDA have been adding boxed warnings to prescription drug labels since 2005. However, more recent data has prompted the FDA to require companies to update the labels with more specific information. Among the more recent findings is the knowledge that risk of stroke and heart attacks may occur as early as within the first weeks of NSAID treatment. Judy Racoosin, MD, MPH says, “There is no period of use shown to be without risk.” While those who have cardiovascular disease are at the greatest risk for adverse effects of NSAIDs, Racoosin says, “Everyone may be at risk- even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Consumer Advice
So, if NSAIDs are out, what should you do for pain relief? Experts say consumers can still take them but need to be aware of the implications, especially at high doses. Mahoney says, “As always, consumers must carefully read the Drug Facts label for all nonprescription drugs. Consumers should carefully consider whether the drug is right for them, and use the medicine only as directed. Take the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time possible.”

If you have a preexisting heart condition or high blood pressure, get a doctor’s opinion before taking an NSAID and weigh the risks and benefits. Also, if you are currently taking aspirin to protect against possible heart attacks and stroke, you should be aware that some NSAIDs, like naproxen a and ibuprofen can interfere with that effect. Mahoney suggests that you do everything possible to reduce risk factors for stroke and heart disease. “Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are significant risk factors for these conditions,” she says, “If you smoke, work on quitting. See your doctor regularly to find out if you have these other strong risk factors, and commit yourself to taking care of them and of your health.”

What are you doing to avoid taking NSAIDs or lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke? let us know how you weigh in! We love to get your thoughts.

Woman having elbow pain

Carpal Tunnel & Golfer's Elbow

In order to determine where the carpal tunnel is, you should take a look at your wrist with your palm facing up and as you flex the wrist towards you, the area underneath the wrinkles is where the carpal tunnel is located. The carpal tunnel contains blood vessels, nerves and tendons which are the outer layers of muscles. Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, causes inflammation and pain in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. Pain generally is focused on the bony area on the inside of the elbow but may also radiate outwards to the forearm. The best thing you can do is you develop golfer’s elbow is really just rest.

What Causes Golfer’s Elbow?
Golfer’s elbow and carpal tunnel are usually caused by the overuse of forearm muscles that involve gripping, rotation of the arms as well as flexing the wrists. Repeating these actions continuously often causes tiny tears in the tendons. Although the condition is called ‘golfer’s elbow’, it does not just affect golfers. Other activities that can lead to the condition are baseball (sometimes called pitcher’s elbow), tennis and bowling. Additionally, individuals can also develop the condition from overusing or incorrectly using tools like hammers, screwdrivers or while painting or raking. Many people will have heard the term ‘tennis elbow’ – both are forms of tendinitis, however, the difference is that golfer’s elbow is usually caused by tendons on the inside while tennis elbow is a result of damage to the tendons on the outside. Golfer’s elbow is also generally less common than tennis elbow.

Treatment of Golfer’s Elbow
The best thing you can do to treat your golfer’s elbow immediately is to apply ice to the affected area for around 20 minutes, anywhere from three to five times a day. You should also ensure to rest the injured elbow and refrain from any activities that may aggravate the condition. Pain medications should also be considered and doctors will often recommend an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin to help reduce the swelling.

Additionally, physical therapy can help relieve pain and hasten the recovery process. There are numerous prescribed exercises which can help and reduce stress to the elbow which in turn can minimize the chance of the condition re-occurring.

There have been numerous innovations in recent years which in more serious cases of golfer’s elbow involve using plasma rich protein injections to accelerate recovery. For individuals who still experience pain after three months or more, surgery may be required. These procedures will often remove damaged parts of tendons in order to promote the healing process. Some individuals may take up to 6 months to recover from a serious case of golfer’s elbow.

Preventing Golfer’s Elbow
The only thing you really can do to prevent golfer’s elbow is to avoid overusing the joint. If you feel pain during any activity or sport you should stop immediately before the condition worsens.

Woman having back pain

The Connection Between Your Feet and Back Pain

Whether you sang “Dem Bones” or “The Skeleton Dance,” there is a good chance that at some point in your life you sang a song about how the bones in your body are all connected, but at the time, it probably meant little to you. Your body truly is built of connected bones, systems, tissues, nerves and cells that keep you breathing, eating and moving. When you have pain in one area of your body, but you don’t remember injuring that part of your body, you may be experiencing what is known as radiating pain. Your back and your feet are quite a bit more connected than you may think, and the foot pain you feel may have nothing to do with your foot, just as the back pain you experience may have nothing to do with your back.

Orthotics
The field of foot care is expanding, and one of the most buzzed-about areas of medical care for the feet is orthotics. Once associated with less than fashionable shoes, orthotics has embraced new technological advances, and now you can wear foot correcting devices without anyone even knowing. Custom-made insoles are now being widely used to treat a variety of abnormalities and deformities of the feet.

Why Orthotics?
Your feet have 26 bones and 33 joints, all of which work constantly to provide your entire body with support. You may not pay much attention to them, but you might want to start. “Feet are fairly delicate structures, damage may be painless in the foot but felt elsewhere in the body,” says British podiatrist, Simon Costain of the Gait and Posture Centre. One of the most common foot conditions is flat feet, or collapsed foot arches. Flat feet can be caused by genetics or by the weakening of your feet muscles due to things like wearing heels or weight gain. You may feel little to no pain in your feet when you have flat feet – in fact, you may not even know you do have flat feet – but you may experience pain in other areas of your body like your lower back or knees.

Orthotics help correct problems, relieving pain in both your back and your feet, and they improve your gait as well. This is important because a shift in your foot while standing or walking may be all it takes to change the alignment of your spine, which can result in the tightening of muscles in your legs, buttocks and back. Muscle tightening may continue to elicit back pain, and even if you don’t feel a thing on your feet, they could be the culprit. True orthotics are custom-made and provided by a medical professional, but there are off-the-shelf alternatives as well.

Because your feet take such a beating on a daily basis, it’s important to pay attention to them and give them the care they deserve. Left untreated, foot problems can create pain elsewhere in the body, particularly in the lower back. With the help of your doctor and orthotics, you could be able to completely correct your gait and experience relief from pain.