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Understanding Pain Medications

Pain Medications?

Often Recommended by Medical Doctors For All Types of Inflammation and Joint & Muscle Discomforts

Summary

Natural Medicine is Safer

Prescription drugs are often recommended by medical doctors for all types of pain relief, inflammation, joint & muscle discomforts and sleep. Long-term use of these can lead to many complications, and can actually exacerbate the symptoms. Some prescription medications can even cause bleeding of the stomach, which alone can be quite serious. Although alternative health supplementation may not completely eradicate the problem, it can alleviate a large portion of the symptoms, and greatly ease the inflammation and pain. These therapies have the added benefit of providing long term health and vitality.

To alleviate discomforts and pain, Natural medicine is safer.

Question the Safety of Approved Drugs

The FDA is on the hot seat. Consumers are questioning the safety of approved drugs. Maybe they will start asking for natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Just like other addicts to illicit drugs, those who suffer from prescription drug addiction tend to deny that they have a drug problem.

Mother Nature Has Solutions

When we mess with Mother Nature, changing molecules to make profitable patents, we cause unnatural problems. Go through your medicine cabinet and ask yourself, "What can I use instead of this, to solve my problems, without nasty side effects?"

Let's advocate this:
No one gets to own Mother Nature. Her natural cures should be available to us all, without oppressive regulation. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, your doctor will recommend treatment and pain management, likely including medication. Read on, to learn about the most common arthritis medications, and how they work.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Arthritis treatment and pain relief typically include NSAIDs (pronounced "ensayds") and pain relievers (analgesics). They help you to feel better by reducing discomfort, but they do not stop the disease process.

For this reason, they cannot prevent the damage associated with arthritic conditions, such as bone and joint impairment, therefore alternative, natural arthritis pain relief is recommended.

Although these drugs are extensively used in the United States (despite their well-known side effects), research indicates that these drugs actually accelerate the progression of joint destruction,causing more problems down the road.

How They Work

NSAIDs block enzymes that are involved in the production of inflammatory compounds. Enzymes speed up chemical reactions, either to join molecules together or split them apart.

The problem with NSAIDs is they not only block the enzymes that produce inflammatory compounds, they also inhibit enzymes that manufacture cartilage components. A person may be temporarily pain-free, but their arthritis is silently getting worse!

Several clinical studies have shown that NSAID use is associated with acceleration of osteoarthritis and increased joint destruction.

If you need immediate pain relief due to arthritis...

Prescription NSAIDs

naproxen (Naprosyn), nabumetone (Relafen), indomethacin (Indocid), diclofenac (Voltaren), piroxicam (Feldene) and sulindac (Clinoril).

Over-the-Counter NSAIDs:
ASA (Aspirin, Anacin and others), and ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) and others. These drugs help reduce pain and swelling in the joints while decreasing stiffness. A low dose controls pain, but higher doses are required to reduce inflammation and provide arthritis pain relief.

Side Effects:

The most common side effects of NSAIDs are heartburn, ulcers and bleeding, and they inhibit the blood's ability to clot properly, and may therefore interact with blood-thinning medications (such as coumadin). They are also associated with an increased incidence of kidney disease. Long term use actually accelerates the progression of joint degeneration.

COX-2 Inhibitors

These drugs also inhibit enzyme production, resulting in the same scenario as NSAIDs... that is accelerating the progression of joint degeneration. Stated again, a person may feel pain-free, but their arthritis is silently getting worse!

COX (cyclooxygenase) refers to an enzyme (that oxidizes arachidonic acid to prostaglandin). There are two forms of this enzyme in your body: COX-1 which is involved in regular body systems such as kidney function and stomach protection, and COX-2 which is triggered by inflammatory mechanisms.

When you have arthritis or any kind of chronic pain, your body is constantly producing COX-2. Reducing that production can also reduce inflammation and the resulting pain. Many pain relievers block the production of both COX enzymes, and some only inhibit the production of COX-2 (Vioxx). This was heralded by mainstream medicine "experts" as a breakthrough, but they spoke too soon (see "Side Effects" below).

These drugs are a subclass of NSAIDs, and have recently been introduced to the North American marketplace. The most frequently prescribed Cox-2 inhibitors are celecoxib (Celebrex), rofecoxib (Vioxx), valdecoxib (Bextra) and meloxicam (Mobicox). Unlike standard NSAIDs, Cox-2 inhibitors do not inhibit proper blood clotting.

Side Effects:
Recent evidence strongly suggests that Cox-2 inhibitors have the same degree of negative side effects as standard NSAIDs, (including contributing to kidney failure) and they may increase the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Long term use actuallyaccelerates the progression of joint degeneration.

Vioxx, the cox-2 inhibitor made by Merck, has been pulled from the market because of severe lethal side effects (heart attack and stroke). This particular drug's ability to provide arthritis pain relief has been under scrutiny, therefore alternative arthritis pain relief is recommended.

Taking Vioxx results in a significantly higher risk of "myocardial infarction, unstable angina, cardiac thrombus (clot), resuscitated cardiac arrest, sudden or unexplained death, ischemic stroke, and transient ischemic attack", as per the published study. When Merck tested Vioxx as a potential preventative treatment for colon polyps, they got the same bad results, and pulled Vioxx off the market. They haven't released actual statistics on the number of study subjects that experienced these problems, or just how significant the "increased risk" is. But it must be high for Merck to take this kind of sweeping, and costly, step.

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, Exdol, and others) are often prescribed to relieve mild to moderate symptoms and for arthritis pain relief but are not an anti-inflammatory drug. They are often used in combination with an anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain.

Side Effects:
Can bring relief for arthritis pain, but does not help the underlying cause of the condition. Overdosing can cause liver damage. Long-term use can result in kidney disease.

Caution:
If you are taking acetaminophen on a regular basis for arthritis pain relief, you should make sure that other over-the-counter medications such as cold and flu remedies do not contain enough acetaminophen to constitute an overdose.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids mimic cortisone, a steroid naturally produced by your body (reduces swelling & inflammation) that helps regulate the immune system. Corticosteroids have a powerful effect on inflammation, but come with a heavy price.

The most common form of corticosteroid is called prednisone. Oral prednisone is usually considered when the symptoms of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) are not being controlled by other treatments, and there is concern about an imminent flare-up, or when the disease is severe and perhaps life threatening. Prednisone use needs to be carefully monitored because of its many side effects, and the drug must never be stopped abruptly.

Doctors may suggest a steroid injection when pain killers are ineffective. This procedure involves placing a small amount of cortisone into the joint. Corticosteriods should be very rarely used, and only for temporary pain relief.

Side Effects:
Can weaken cartilage and remove minerals from the bone, causing osteoporosis. Chronic use may result in immune suppression and increase the risk of infection.
Other side effects include cataracts, high blood pressure, sleep problems, muscle loss, bruising, weight gain, immune suppression and increased susceptibility to infections.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants are commonly used to provide pain relief, and are available as prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Over-the-counter Muscle Relaxants:
Robaxin (methocarbamol), Robaxacet (methocarbamol and acetaminophen) and Robaxisal (methocarbamol and ASA).

Prescription Muscle Relaxants:
Soma (carisoprodol) is typically prescribed on a short-term basis and may be habit-forming, particularly if used with alcohol or other drugs that affect the mind.

Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) may be used on a longer-term basis. This drug may impair mental and physical function and can lead to urinary retention in men with enlarged prostates.

Valium (diazepam) is usually restricted to one to two weeks of use. Due to this drug's habit-forming potential, and its propensity to alter the sleep cycle, it is not prescribed for long-term use. Since Valium is a depressant, it can worsen depression that is often associated with chronic pain.

Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy is injected at the point of injury, a bursitis treatment using a solution of simple compounds (usually dextrose or calcium carbonate). This triggers an inflammation response that increases the blood supply and delivers the nutrients necessary to promote the growth of new cells and repair damaged connective tissue.

Surgery

Surgery is usually a last-resort solution for back pain. Each surgery is unique to the patient's specific symptoms and there is no procedure that "fits all." Common surgical procedures for back pain include:

  • Diskectomy - the removal of a herniated disk to relieve pressure on a nerve root,
  • Laminectomy - the removal of the lamina (the back portion of the spine that forms the roof of the spinal canal) to allow more room for nerves,
  • Spinal Fusion - placement of a bone graft between two or more vertebrae, which causes them to grow together, stopping the motion between the vertebra caused by segmental instability.

The Medical Industry's Principles Of Pain Management

The goals of pain management are basic:

  • pain relief
  • physical rehabilitation
  • control of psychological and emotional problems.

Pain relief is achieved by:

  • medications
  • nerve blocks
  • neuroaugmentation

With the medications, the main stay of treatment remain:

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • narcotics
  • antidepressants
  • muscle relaxants. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are limited in that there is a ceiling effect

The benefit of the narcotics is that there is no ceiling effect. However, the dangers of narcotics lie in their tendency to cause physical dependence and can also lead to addiction.

Antidepressants have two effects:

  • they normalize the sleeping pattern
  • they tend to reduce a patient's pain.

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