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Back Talk
Medications and back pain
Article published on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009
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Are you one of those people who just do not have time to take care of themselves when they have a problem like back pain or headaches?

You just tell yourself, “I don’t have time to deal with it.” So you take an over the counter pain medication (and feel safe, afterall it is over the counter and so it’s safe, right?) and go on with what you are doing.

You may actually be harming yourself in the long run with this behavior. First, the harm will come in not finding out what is causing your problem. You assume that it is not something that can cause permanent damage or death. But your behavior in treating a symptom and not knowing what is causing it may cause even worse problems. And significantly more health care cost in the future.

A recent study published in the medical journal Neurology examined the relation between analgesic use (this includes over the counter medications such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Tylenol, as well as the stronger medications such as Vioxx, Celebrex, Ultram, Vicoden, etc.) taken on a regular basis, from daily to weekly over an extended period of time. The study included 32,067 adults, which is a very good sample. They followed those individuals for 11 years, and found a significantly increased risk for chronic pain in those people who just took analgesics for pain. They found that people with headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, and other joint pain, tended to just take analgesics assuming that nothing can be done for their pain. Usually, this is because they have only sought medical care for these problems. Most of the time, there is no medical solution for these problems.

However, there is very frequently an answer for these people with chiropractic care. Most medical practitioners now understand the benefit of referring their back and neck pain patients and headache and joint pain patients to chiropractic physicians. They understand that correcting the underlying problem allows the patient to be rid of their pain and not need analgesics on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is too easy to just give a person with a problem a prescription, because they think that they are too busy to get in and get the problem fixed. But they are really doing the person a disservice as the above study shows clearly, as they may inadvertently be allowing this patient to have a lifetime of chronic pain.

In recent editions of the St. Petersburg Times there were two articles published. Both were concerning the astronomical rise in complications and problems related with over the counter medications and the problems that they can cause. One stated, “Over the counter medications are largely safe. But the FDA counts 178,000 hospitalizations (not just problems, problems bad enough to need hospital care) a year associated with non-prescription drug use.”

And this does not include the hospitalizations secondary to prescription drug use.

The second article stated that preventable complications in hospitalized patients lead to more than 32,000 hospital deaths and more than $9 billion in extra costs. That savings alone would be a great contribution to decreasing health care costs and in a prescription drug benefit! They also found that such complications contribute to 2.4 million extra hospital days per year.

Imagine the savings to the healthcare system if we just stopped taking drugs that are not needed or that could be replaced with appropriate treatment.

One quick look at the advertising in the newspapers for people injured by Cox 2 Inhibitor medications like Bextra, Celebrex and Vioxx, shows you the inherent risks in taking a “safe prescription” medication on a regular basis – increased risk of sudden cardiac death and stroke. These are not risks that you want to take if you have a correctable problem and just are not taking the time to deal with it.

Now we are even seeing increased incidence of liver damage caused by Tylenol.

If you are taking a pain medication and telling yourself that you “did everything you could” to find out what was wrong to correct the problem, you have not unless you have also consulted a chiropractic physician for your problem.

Why risk having chronic pain or injury to your health – you could be one of the statistics mentioned in the articles above.
Article published on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009
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