Anti-Inflammatories Can Prolong Pain?
By Dr. Doug
Recently published research from McGill University suggests that Anti-Inflammatories have the potential to prolong your pain!
In pain? It's a common habit for people to reach for an Advil or Aleve to relieve their pain. Prescriptions from family doctors include a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, sometimes in conjunction with a muscle relaxant. This approach to pain management has made its way into the guidelines for health practitioners. But a very recent study from McGill University has thrown that approach in doubt. Researchers began by differentiating the chemicals produced by the the body to indicate pain that fades quickly, versus pain that has become chronic. Then they examined the blood from subjects who had just started having of back pain and examined their blood again three months later. The results surprised them. People whose pain had subsided, had experienced a large inflammatory response initially which was then gone by the three month mark. People who had lingering pain had no strong inflammatory reaction. When the process was repeated with pain in a different location, TMJ pain, the results were similar. The researchers wondered if modifying the immune response to an injury was the cause. Their next step involved mice with an induced pain that were given some medications. One group got diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory, and other groups got other types of pain medication: gabapentin, morphine or lidocaine. Only the group given the anti-inflammatory continued to have chronic pain. The step after was to determine if taking anti-inflammatories produced this chronic pain. They turned to the UK Biobank, which collects data about half a million peoples medical conditions. They found 2,163 people who reported acute low back pain, 461 whose pain had become chronic. They found that people who took a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory were almost twice as likely to develop chronic pain than people who took no medication.
This study is just a starting point to find out how to manage pain best. Hopefully there will be more research looking at this common situation so we can have a better understanding about how to manage pain. In the meantime, such steps as stretching and exercising are definitely recommended as well as getting some hands on treatment, like Chiropractic or Massage Therapy!
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