Pain is the number two reason for both doctor visits and hospital visits in the US.  Medical treatment is generally focused on symptomatic relief without regard to solving the underlying cause. Initial pain relief is important as  long as it is followed up with correcting the problem.  nsaids

Every day we see patients in pain in our office.  Many of the patients have been hurting for a long time.  In desperation, most people seek out over the counter or prescription pain medications without know their full implications.

Liver toxicity from acetaminophen poisoning is by far the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. The dose of tylenol that is necessary for pain relief is very near the toxic dose.

NSAID’s or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxsen.   Here are some interesting facts:

  • The most common and most serious adverse effects associated with NSAIDs are gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers and bleeding. These conditions can often be very serious, and occasionally lead to fatal complications such as perforation of the gut or bleeding to death. According to a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.
  • One retrospective study reported that nearly 80 percent of all ulcer-related deaths in the U.S. occurred in patients who were using an NSAID. At any given time, a patient on NSAID therapy has a 5- to 10-times greater risk than non-users of developing a gastric ulcer.
  • One large epidemiological study estimated that the death rate for NSAID-associated gastrointestinal problems was 0.04% per year among patients receiving NSAIDs specifically for osteoarthritis and related conditions. This figure extrapolates to 3,200 deaths in the U.S. per year.
  • A more recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that at least 103,000 patients are hospitalized per year in the United States for serious gastrointestinal complications due to NSAID use. At an estimated cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per hospitalization, the annual direct costs of such complications exceed $2 billion. This study estimated that 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur among patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis every year in the United States. This figure is similar to the annual number of deaths from AIDS and considerably greater than the number of deaths from asthma, cervical cancer or Hodgkin’s disease. If deaths from gastrointestinal toxic effects of NSAIDs were tabulated separately in the National Vital Statistics reports, these effects would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the US.
  • Complications from NSAID use apparently do not result only from long-term use. One analysis found short-term NSAID use was actually associated with a higher risk of GI complications than chronic use. One double-blind trial found that 6 of 32 healthy volunteers (19 percent) developed a gastric ulcer that was visible on endoscopic examination after only 1 week’s treatment with naproxen (at a commonly prescribed dose of 500mg twice daily–the same dose received from 5 non-prescription Aleve per day).

Because of the risk of illness and death from these drugs, alternatives to the pharmaceutical approach are attractive especially because of their safety. Here are some of the approaches that we use in our office:

  • Natural Herbal Compounds-Herbs, such as, ginger, turmeric and bosweilla are natural anti-inflammatory agents.  They do not have the risks of GI irritation.  In fact, they reduce GI irritation and can be taken in large doses.
  • Proteolytic Enzymes-Proteolytic Enzymes help to “dissolve” circulating inflammatory proteins and reduce swelling and inflammation.  They can also reduce scar tissue.
  • Cold Laser Therapy-Low Level Laser Therapy is a non-invasive, fast and effective modality that has been proven in clinical trials to reduce pain, reduce edema and promote healing. Learn more at
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy or PEMF– PEMF uses billionth of a second pulses that can penetrate tissues to restore the normal electromagnetic charge of injured or diseased cells.  Pain relief is sometimes immediate and dramatic.  Learn more about PEMF here

If you need help with pain relief, call our office today at 704-837-2420 to schedule a no cost consultation.


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