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Alternative Medicine

Chronic Pain: Why The “Cure” Is Often Worse Than The Disease

Ironically what many people do to relieve the symptoms of pain actually creates worse problems.

Ironically what many people do to relieve the symptoms of pain actually creates worse problems.

You won’t learn about this on the labels of over-the-counter medications. But if you’re really good at reading fine print, you might notice something about this in the fact sheet that comes with prescription pain meds. 

Since these medications are so commonly used, knowing all of their effects becomes important. To help you understand how these drugs affect you, here are the pros and cons of taking pain medications:

Pros

The argument in favor of taking both over-the-counter and prescription pain medications is simple – the promise of fast relief.

It usually takes a bit of trial and error to know which ones will work for an individual, but eventually people get to know what bottle to reach for when they want fast relief. And once someone finds the one that works for them, they have the added effect of being quick and easy. Who doesn’t want that?

So the biggest advantage of pain relief medications when they work as advertised could be summed up as, “quick and easy.” Now compare that with the disadvantages…

Cons

The argument against taking these drugs is bit more complicated, but it mostly boils down to one thing – unwanted side effects. These unwanted side effects include some obvious, and some not-so-obvious problems.

Pain medications come in three general categories – opiates (and opiate-like drugs), steroids such as cortisone and prednisone, and non-steroidal anti-inflammtories (NSAIDs). Here is the low-down on all three:

Opiates & Opiate-like Drugs: The more obvious problems occur with the opiate-like (aka narcotic) drugs (morphine, codeine Oxycodone, Vicodin, etc.)

At the top of the list for side effects of narcotic pain medications is their potential for addiction. I’ve worked with many people attempting to withdraw from these drugs and can say from this experience that it’s often very difficult for people to get off of them.

Narcotic pain meds also have the annoying side effects of constipation, drowsiness and difficulty urinating.

Steroids: There are several types of steroid hormones, but the ones prescribed to deal with pain are the pharmaceutical glucocorticosteroids. These include cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone.

Although they are excellent at reducing acute inflammation (thus reducing pain), there are huge problems with taking them over time. Here are some of these potential problems with long-term use:

  • insomnia
  • joint pain
  • migraine headaches
  • cataracts
  • suppressed immune system
  • destruction of connective tissue
  • osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • diabetes
  • depression, mania or psychosis

Did you catch the “joint pain” and “migraines” in that list?

If not managed well, taking these steroids can even lead to death from complete shutdown of the adrenal glands.

NSAIDs: The third type of commonly used pain meds, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), have their own list of potential problems. This category includes aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc. It also includes some prescription pain meds such as Vioxx and Celebrex.

Among the worst side effects of NSAIDs is that they raise the risk of ulcers and heart disease.

In addition, overusing them can cause kidney failure, and ironically in the case of arthritis pain, more damage to joints.

Natural Options

But what can you still want relief from your pain while avoiding these unwanted side-effects of the usual pain medications? As it turns out, there is a lot you can do.

In my practice I use what I call the “E-C-R System” for natural pain relief. The “E” in E-C-R stands for “Eliminate Pain Symptoms.”

To eliminate pain naturally, there are three basic approaches. One of these involves using natural supplements that reduce inflammation, and therefore decrease pain symptoms.

There are four categories of natural supplements having the effect of reducing inflammation:

  1. Enzymes, such as bromelain & papain
  2. Natural anti-inflammatories including ginger & curcumin
  3. Amino acids like MSM
  4. Topical substances including ingredients like capsaicin & arnica oil

In addition to those mentioned above there are numerous other natural substances in each category that have proven pain-fighting qualities.

This means it is possible using natural approaches to reduce pain while avoiding the unwanted side effects of pain medications.

On March 14th, 2011 I’ll be releasing a new program called, “The Balance Point Solution for Beating Chronic Pain Naturally.”

I’m really excited about The Balance Point Solution because it goes over every detail of the E-C-R System I use with my pain patients. This system contains the best, most complete information on natural pain relief I’ve gathered in 40 years of practice.

I’ll be letting you know more about the program over the next few weeks.

All the best to you for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

Dr. Bruce

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References:

Hyperhealth Pro Database, In-Tele-Health, Hansville, WA, 2008.

Arthritis and Narcotic Pain Medication, WebMD.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Pain Medications, About.com

Merck Index, 14th Edition, Published by Merck & Co.

One reply on “Chronic Pain: Why The “Cure” Is Often Worse Than The Disease”

Thanks for the great information. Quite a few well-designed trials and meta-analysis have shown some benefit of acupuncture for chronic back and neck pain as well. Natural Standard labels acupuncture as an “A” rated therapy signifying that there is strong scientific evidence for this indication, along with it’s use in osteoarthritis and post-operative pain. I also used the Natural Standard website (www.naturalstandard.com) to look up some of the natural remedies that you’ve suggested here. The site has tons of information about the safety and reported efficacy of each of these products.

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