How do over-the-counter pain relievers work?Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers fall into one of two general categories, separated by how they work within your body.
- Acetaminophen – Like many opioid pain medications, OTC drugs such as Tylenol work by preventing pain signals from reaching pain receptors in the brain.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – Drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen reduce the production of certain hormones in your body that produce pain. They also have the added benefit of reducing inflammation in the body.
What’s the Problem With OTC Medications?Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs are effective pain relievers and fever reducers, but both have side effects that are common with prolonged or inappropriate use. Both can damage the kidneys with excessive use and NSAIDs also carry the risk of stomach ulcers and internal bleeding. But that does not stop people from taking more than they should. One study found that 55 percent of people took an OTC pain medication at least three days a week and 15 percent of those exceeded the recommended daily limit of the medication. Citing reasons like, “finding a dose that’s right for them,” many people disregard the recommendations so readily available on every bottle of medication These medications also fail to address the underlying problem causing your daily aches and pains. Instead, they only mask the discomfort. It is only when you address the structural and functional problems that you begin to experience permanent pain relief without relying on medications – prescription or otherwise.
How Physical Therapy Can Reduce Your OTC Medication UseMake no mistake. OTC medications play an important role in the recovery process after surgery or an injury. However, they must be coupled with physical therapy in order to be truly effective. A physical therapist is an expert at uncovering the underlying cause of your aches and pains and addressing them in ways that help your body to move better. After an initial evaluation and diagnostic testing, a physical therapist will be able to tell you the source of the pain you are experiencing and how physical therapy can help you address it. Conditions from headaches to knee pain, low back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome can all be positively affected by physical therapy. Once your physical therapist understands the cause of your pain, they can prescribe specific therapies to address it. Ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat, and massage may be used to relieve pain while functional exercise and stretching may be used to strengthen weak areas of your body and increase range of motion. With the ultimate goal of restoring function while relieving pain, a physical therapist can help you get back on your feet and back to enjoying your life with minimal use of OTC pain relievers. Curious if physical therapy is right for you? Are you taking an OTC medication regularly? Contact OSR Physical Therapy today and schedule an appointment with our physical therapist. The only thing you have to lose are your aches and pains.
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