Pain management and the dangers of NSAIDs is a common topic in my clinic.
There are many TYPES of pain; acute pain such as headaches, cramps and sprains; and chronic pain from injuries, arthritis, etc. There is muscle tension pain, surgery recovery pain, and pain from poor posture. Body aches from the flu, athletic or overuse pain, and more. Most are inflammatory in nature, often involving prostaglandins. Some are neurotransmitter related.
Different pains, different people, different results and side effects. Even the GOAL of pain management differs from one person to another. The graph here presents the traditional view of pain management, the pathway we want to avoid. While most people just want relief, others ask for actual solutions to prevent the pain, and/or to resolve the underlying problem. Here’s an area where natural solutions have an advantage.
Without question, the number one pain solution I have encountered in my Clinical Nutrition practice is removing the highly inflammatory and allergic foods such as grains, legumes and dairy. The results on many kinds of pain can be dramatic. I have seen severe Rheumatoid Arthritis pain ease in a person already quite crippled; neurological pains dissolve; the end of headaches and menstrual cramps, and much more by incorporating the changes in my Diet For Human Beings, or the Paleo or Primal Blueprint Diet.
The dangers of NSAIDs
Avoiding steroids, opioids and surgery often means a lifetime dependence on Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAID’s for short). These include prescription and over the counter products such as Advil and Motrin (Ibuprofens); Aleve (Naproxen); Aspirin; Celebrex; Mobic and more. All carry warnings of increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and stomach ulcers (bleeding). Additional side effects include heartburn, headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, high blood pressure, risk of miscarriage, swelling of the legs, and of course, kidney and/or liver damage. The risk of death is higher in the elderly, who often take these on a regular basis. Short-term use of 10 to 14 days is labelled on most.
Tylenol is not an NSAID, but it has it’s own risks, and it works only on pain, not inflammation. It is safer for kids then NSAID’s and aspirin.
If the goal is to remove the CAUSE of the pain and inflammation, a Paleo Diet is the key first step. From there, we add supplements and therapies. Supplements can include: enzymes (on an empty stomach so they digest the inflammation, not dinner); Omega 3’s such as fish oil and krill oil (and the removal of inflammatory Omega 6’s, as the Diet For Human Beings will tell you); glucosamine and/or chrondroitin; turmeric/curcumin and ginger; boswellia; white willow; and MSM.
Therapies can include chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial-sacral therapy and massage, yoga and Homeopathy. Topicals can help too, including cold packs and Arnica creams such as TrauMeel (for acute pain) and ZEEL (for arthritis pain). Commercial topicals such as Bengay contain salicylates and may cause side effects if overused.