I would like to talk briefly about the purpose of pain and when to seek pain relief. This article is not targeted at those who already have some sort of chronic pain which has been resistant to all forms of treatment. I will leave that to the pain specialists. However, I would like to speak to people who might unknowingly be heading down the path of chronic pain.
There is a TV commercial here in the US that shows people doing all kinds of acrobatic moves and then it says “what pain?” It makes me cringe and this is why. Pain is really not your enemy. Your body is trying to tell you something. Sometimes it just wants you to slow down or it is telling you that something is really wrong.
Take for example, you wear a new pair of shoes; you come home in the evening and your knees or ankles are swollen. Should you take a pain reliever and wear the same pair of shoes the next day or should you wear something more comfortable and let you joints heal naturally? The same question goes to an athlete who sprains or tears a muscle. Should you take a pain reliever and play the next game or should you rest that muscle and let it heal naturally?
I know this is a very touchy subject in a society where the winner takes it all and there is no room for second best but if we are to be truthful, pain relievers should only be taken to relieve discomfort on a short term while the real source of the pain should be addressed.
Let me share a story with you. A few years ago, my son had three of his wisdom teeth removed. The dental surgeon said he would be giving us a prescription for Oxycodone with acetaminophen for the expected pain after the surgery. As a pharmacist, I knew the problems of oxycodone addiction and I told him that my son would just be taking ‘over the counter’ acetaminophen.
The surgeon then insisted that we should at least take a prescription for acetaminophen with codeine just in case the pain is unbearable. Codeine is also addictive but less addictive than oxycodone. I reluctantly accepted the prescription but did not take it to the pharmacy.
After the surgery, I took my son home and allowed him to sleep off the anesthesia (he was still groggy). When he woke up, I gave him 2 tablets of 500mg ‘over the counter’ acetaminophen and another 2 tablets 6 hours later. I made sure he did the warm salt water mouth rinse as directed by the surgeon and by the next day he was fine with no ill effects.
Pain Killer addiction
A recent health news headline said most teenagers who get addicted to opioid pain killers do so after they have their wisdom teeth removed. I wonder how many of them were pressured into taking an opioid pain killer when they could have just taken an ‘over the counter’ acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
So if you have had a tough day at work and you came home with headache, instead of reaching for a bottle of pain killers, why not turn of everything try to go to bed and see if it helps. Your things to do list can wait.
Talk to you soon.