New information just came out which is important for you to know about anti-inflammatory drugs commonly referred to as NSAIDs. Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, (NSAIDs) include Advil (Also known as ibuprofen or Motrin), Aleve (naproxen), and Aspirin as well as prescription drugs like Celebrex (celecoxib) and Voltaren (diclofenac). You should read this before taking NSAIDs and you should share this with your friends and family.
If you use NSAIDs for pain, you are more likely to develop chronic pain!
These new findings from McGill University, and information published in Science Translational Medicine, are based on a series of studies. These findings suggest that if you use NSAIDs for pain relief, you are more likely to develop chronic pain. These findings are based on human, animal and laboratory studies.
An analysis of 500,000 people in the United Kingdom found that those taking NSAIDs for pain were twice as likely to have pain 2 to 6 years later. Those that took other types of drugs for pain relief did not have increased rates of chronic pain.
Here is the significance of this information. If you hurt your low back, or twist your ankle you will typically have pain for 1-2 weeks. But for some people, the pain never goes away. And now we have an explanation for why the pain doesn't go away for some people. If you take NSAIDs to relieve the pain you are more likely to be one of those unfortunate people for whom the pain does not go away.
Why do NSAIDs lead to chronic pain? Using blood tests on people with acute low back pain, the researchers found an inflammatory response. Patients that had the inflammatory response had resolution of the back pain. Patients that had no inflammatory response went on to develop chronic pain. Their acute pain didn't go away. They replicated these finding with patients with temporomandibular disorder (TMD), a painful condition of the jaw. No inflammation meant no resolution of the pain.
We call this ability of the body to heal itself Vis Medicatrix Naturae, which means the healing power of nature. Your body uses inflammation to heal the injury and relieve the pain. When you take NSAIDs, the drug does exactly what it is designed to do. It stops the natural inflammation and healing is thwarted. When these injuries are prevented from healing, chronic pain can be the result.
These observational results were replicated in mice studies. Mice when treated with anti-inflammatory drugs developed long term pain. The mice that were treated with 3 different pain relieving drugs that weren't anti-inflammatory, (gabapentin, morphine and lidocaine), got pain relief, but did not develop long term pain. This leads us to believe that pain relievers are not the problem, NSAIDs are the problem.
“For many decades it’s been standard medical practice to treat pain with anti-inflammatory drugs. But we found that this short-term fix could lead to longer-term problems,” said co-author Jeffrey Mogil, PhD, Professor of Pain Studies and the Canada Research Chair in the Genetics of Pain at McGill University in Montreal.
This is not new information. This has been known all along. For example, many surgeons have always prohibited the use of NSAIDs after surgery to treat post op pain. Why? Because they knew the NSAIDs would prevent the surgery from healing correctly.
"Our findings suggest it may be time to reconsider the way we treat acute pain. Luckily pain can be killed in other ways that don't involve interfering with inflammation," says Massimo Allegri, a Physician at the Policlinico of Monza Hospital in Italy and Ensemble Hospitalier de la Cote in Switzerland.
We are in the midst of a chronic pain epidemic. In a recently published study, in the journal Demography, it was shown that the prevalence of chronic pain is increasing for all groups of U.S. adults. According to a recent Institute of Medicine estimate, more than 100 million Americans struggle with chronic pain, at an annual cost of $635 billion. Chronic pain levels are higher now than ever before.
Are NSAIDs the explanation for this epidemic
of chronic pain?
Does this information about NSAIDS gives an explanation for why chronic pain is increasing? The most popular NSAIDs came on the market 40, 50 and 60 years ago. For example Advil came on the market in 1961. And our levels of chronic pain are at disastrous levels compared to 1961.
Although the increase in chronic pain is undoubtedly multifactorial, it appears NSAIDs must shoulder part of the blame.
Other important factors include dietary sugar. Go HERE to read more about sugar's deleterious impact on your health and pain. The Omega 6/3 ratio is also implicated in the pain epidemic. Go HERE for more information about the role of Omega 3 for improving your health and overcoming pain. For more information about the dangers of Advil go HERE. Most of the information about Advil would apply to all NSAIDs.
Physicians have a proactive responsibility to share this information to help prevent pain and suffering. The word doctor derives from the Latin word “docere” meaning "to
teach." I am fulfilling my responsibility now by sharing this information with you. I am concerned that many doctors will ignore this information and continue with business as usual. I hope not, but I am a little pessimistic about this.
You have at least one responsibility, possibly 2 in refence to this information that I have now shared with you. Your first and greatest responsibility is to use this information to make an informed decision about using NSAIDs. Your 2nd responsibility might be to share this information with others. Do you have loved ones that need to know this? Should you share this with family members? Co-workers? Friends?