Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something may be wrong. It can be steady, throbbing, stabbing, aching, pinching, or described in many other ways. Sometimes, it’s just a nuisance, like a mild headache. Other times it can be debilitating.
But before you reach for that bottle in the medicine cabinet for pain relief, know what you’re taking — and what side effects it might cause. Always read the label and follow directions before taking any medication.
Moye’s Pharmacy carries a number of over-the-counter pain relievers. Here’s a listing of popular choices and the possible side effects:
- Acetaminophen including Tylenol. Helps to relieve pain and reduce fever caused by muscle aches and stiffness. Large amounts can harm your liver. If you are also taking pain medicine prescribed by your health care provider, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist before taking any OTC acetaminophen.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen. Also helps to reduce fever and relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, but can also reduce inflammation, swelling and irritation. Side effects can cause stomach irritation and bleeding, and it should be avoided by anyone who has ulcers, bleeding disorders, or kidney or liver problems. DO NOT give aspirin to children. Reye syndrome can occur when aspirin is used to treat children who have viral infections, such as chickenpox or the flu.
- Analgesic Creams, Rubs, and Sprays. Topical pain relievers are also available without a doctor’s prescription. These products include creams, lotions, or sprays that are applied to the skin in order to relieve pain from sore muscles and arthritis. Some examples of topical pain relievers include Biofreeze, Aspercreme, Ben-Gay, Icy Hot, and Capzasin-P. Most people who use topical anti-inflammatory medicines do not have any side effects. However, side effects occur in a small number of users. The most common is a rash. If you develop a rash when using an anti-inflammatory then you should stop the treatment and ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
- Hot and Cold Packs. Hot or cold packs — or sometimes a combination the two can provide relief for sore muscles and joints. Cold numbs sore areas. It is especially helpful for the pain and swelling of an arthritis flare or joint injury, such as a sprained ankle. Cold may reduce inflammation by constricting blood flow to the injured area. Heat packs relax your muscles. Heat dilates blood vessels, sending more oxygen and blood to the area. Heat also decreases the sensation of pain. You can apply hot or cold using commercial packs or using other home methods.
Store brands containing the same active ingredients as brand-name pain relievers are commonly available. Store brands have the same risks and benefits as their brand-name counterparts, often at a more reasonable cost. Health Mart is Moye’s Pharmacy’s store brand. For more information on how you can save by buying Health Mart brand, click here.
If you’re suffering with pain that lasts more than a few days, talk to your doctor about your concerns. You may have an underlying health problem, like fibromyalgia or arthritis. Depending on the cause of your pain, he or she may prescribe a pain medication.
Taking prescription pain medication is only recommended under the close supervision of your doctor. You should discuss all the risks and potential side effects (including possible addiction) and ask your doctor to review the dosage instructions with you. And remember, you should never take medication prescribed for someone else, even once.