It is estimated that of the 238 million adults in the US, 116 million suffer from chronic pain. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common allopathic approach to the management of these chronic pain patients. However, there are more complaints filed to regulatory agencies worldwide against NSAIDs than any other classification of drugs.
Due to pro-inflammatory lifestyles (diet and physical, chemical and emotional stressors), pain and other subsequent signs or symptoms of internal disfunction runs rampant. This leads to the perceived need for routine NSAID use (tylenol, aspirin, advil, ibuprofen, etc.) to get through the busy day. While the underlying cause of the inflammation should always be addressed, what we are talking about here is a short term, safer alternative to the NSAID.
The reason a smarter option should be exercised is due to the fact that like all drugs, over the counter or prescribed, these magic pills are not sans side effects. NSAID use and overuse is responsible for an alarming number of hospitalizations and even deaths each year. Common side effects include internal hemorrhaging, liver and kidney damage, digestive dysfunction including degradation of the stomach and intestinal wall (ulcers), and stroke; with the likelihood of occurrence increasing with usage.
So when you see these commercials with the delivery man or mother of three relying on her her alieve or advil to get through the day, best believe reliance on an even longer list of meds will follow to address the aforementioned issues.
To understand viable options, we need to understand the physiologic mechanism of action behind the NSAID. These drugs work by inhibiting a part of the inflammatory pathway that leads to the formation of something called a prostaglandin (PGE2) that would normally lead to stimulation of pain fibers. They do this by inhibiting an enzyme in the pathway called COX-2, and are thus noted as COX-2 inhibitors.
What most people don’t know is that there are actually other ways to block the formation of PGE2, and thus the pain. In addition to a laundry list of other systemic benefits, Omega3 (Fish Oil) supplementation also serves as a COX-2 inhibitor, and thus a potentially powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. (Provided this is a high quality Omega 3 supplement and at a therapeutic dose.)
Another fascinating option that works in a similar COX-2 inhibitory
manner is the application Low Laser Therapy or LLT. These are often classified as cold lasers (due to the lack of heat) and work by utilizing a specific wavelength and frequency of light to achieve a desired therapeutic purpose within the tissues. One of the effects of Low Level Laser Therapy is that it too blocks the COX-2 enzyme, and thus the formation of PGE2 and the sensation of pain, but without the side effects.
As previously stated, the long term objective should always be to identify and eliminate the cause of the problematic inflammation so the use of natural or chemical anti-inflammatories is minimized. However, due to the well documented hazards associated with these seemingly harmless and casually over consumed drugs, wiser options, that work in the exact same manner, should be exercised.
As with any adjustment to your healthcare regimen, always consult with you knowledgable and trusted healthcare coach before making any changes. Whether it’s the all natural temporary relief of pain, or a combination of short term relief to get you through while we work on a long term solution, we are here to collaborate with and coach you to a better quantity and quality of life.
We’re ready when you are.