Pain Medications the Pro's and Con's

Pain Medications the Pro's and Con's


We had a discussion in the gym the other day about the Pro's and Con's of taking OTC ( over -the-counter ) medications. A number of valid points were brought up and discussed. So in order to get a grasp of this topic I did a bit of research and found out some interesting things about pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

First off pain and anti inflammatory medications are different classes of drugs that control injured body tissue. Some medications can be one or the other or a combination of both.

The big four ( OTC ) medications are aspirinibuprofenacetaminophen, and naproxen. This group comprises the group of drugs that are called NSAIDS( non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ). T


  • Aspirin, sold as Aspirin or Bayer is an one of the oldest pharmaceutical products to relieve pain. It can treat pain, fever, headache, and inflammation. It can also reduce the risk of heart attack. It is best to take this medicine with food or milk.But many who take aspirin, have a risk for ulcers (which are small holes in your stomach lining due to excessive aspirin intake , hence the "Acid" factor) If taken at the recommended daily dosage even on a regular basis, some may have stomach irritation while others don't.


  • Ibuprofen,
    sold as
    MotrinMidol or Advil, is chemically similar to regular Aspirin and functions in a similar way. In lower doses, ibuprofen seems to irritate the esophagus and stomach lining less than aspirin and naproxen. Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.



  • Naproxen, sold as Aleve 
    , is especially effective as an anti-inflammatory agent. It also has factors that can irritate the lining of the stomach. But is a very effective pain reducer.


  • Acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol, Anacin, Does a decent job as a pain reliever. But has more anti inflammatory properties. It is best not to combine aspirin and acetaminophen as they can cause nausea and stomach irritation. 


Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine. Acetaminophen can damage your liver, and alcohol can increase this risk. Do not take acetaminophen without asking your doctor if you have 3 or more drinks of alcohol every day



To get the maximum benefit of taking OTC medication here are a few steps to consider:
  1. READ THE LABEL!!! 
  2. Take the recommended dosage. That can be 1-2 tablets, capsules or gel tabs every 2 - 4 hours depending upon the strength of the medicine you are taking.
  3. Make sure of what you eat or drink when taking medication. Some products require food or for you to not have food. Almost all OTC definitely restrict alcohol usage!!!
  4. Absolutely no drug combinations!! If your taking a particular medicine. Take that until it's cycled out of your system. 
  5. OTC are short term solutions. If your pain and swelling last's longer than 3 days and shows no sign of abatement. Thats when you should contact your primary health care provider to make an appointment to find other solutions.
So to summarize everything discussed.....

  • The Pro's are: short term relieve for most sprain/ strain injuries

  • The Con's are: taking more than recommended, ( # of tablets, capsules, gels ) taking for longer than recommended ( # of days to weeks ), that can lead to irritation of the stomach lining or worse, ulcers and combining with other medications


OTC medication works best in conjunction with palliative care ( i.e heat and ice therapy , electrical muscle stimulation ) When used proactively together and consistently most sprain/strain/bruise injuries can be resolved in about 7-10 days. 

Again if your symptoms persist more than a few days ( 3 or more ) then that is when it's prudent to seek health care advise. 

If any of you have additional information about the above topic please share.

The next Blog will deal with natural remedies that have inherent anti-inflammatory and pain properties that can mediate your usage of OTC.

Hope you find value in this article.

Next Level Fitness
A. Pigott DC



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