Statistics suggest that low back pain (LBP), neck pain or headaches will plague most of us at some point in our lives, if it hasn’t already.
Most healthcare professions that manage patients with low back pain focus ONLY on pain management. In fact, studies have reported that 67% of patient satisfaction is driven by pain elimination. One of the most common strategies for reducing pain is managing inflammation. The “easiest” way to do this (according to the many TV commercials and magazine advertisements) is to take one of the many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin), Piroxicam Flurbiprofen, and Indomethacin.
Let’s take a closer look to see if this is a good or bad idea!
In a recent March 2015 article, researchers investigated the use of NSAIDs between 1993 and 2012 in patients who had fractures that failed to heal, technically called “non-union fractures.” They found that non-union fractures increased during years when NSAID use was increasingly recommended for patients with fractures and dropped in years when NSAID use declined.
This isn’t the first study to report poor fracture healing results from NSAIDs when they’re used as the primary form of pain relief and in fact, studies on this subject date back to the early 1990s.
So how does this equate to Back Pain?
Most directly, fractures are one of the many causes of Low Back Pain, so for that population, the answer is clear. However, LBP is much more commonly caused by sprains (ligament injuries) and strains (muscle/tendon injuries), as well as cartilage injury because of misalignment of the vertebrae.
Here too, studies show that the healing rate of sprains, strains, and cartilage is also delayed when NSAIDs
are used as the primary pain relief approach. This healing delay is reportedly due to NSAIDs’ inhibition of “proteoglycan synthesis,” a component of ligament and cartilage tissue regeneration and repair.
NSAIDs also inhibit release of prostaglandins (especially prostaglandin E2), which is needed for tissuerepair. These effects are ESPECIALLY observed with long-term use, but recent studies show injured athletes are best off NOT taking NSAIDs AT ALL as these drugs delay the healing process and thus the athlete’s ability to return to their sport.
In a January 2015 study, researchers criticized the common use of NSAIDs in elderly patients for the treatment of non-cancerous pain. They found 75% of the elderly population studied was prescribed
NSAIDs which, in retrospect, the researchers determined to be inappropriate!
NSAIDs interfere with healing, the net effect is an ACCELERATION of osteoarthritis and joint deterioration!
In 1995, a North Carolina School of Medicine study compared four groups of patients with soft tissue injuries (tendon strains):
1. Group 1 received NO treatment (control group)
2. Group 2 received exercise only
3. Group 3 received exercise AND Indomethacin (NSAID)
4. Group 4 received Indomethacin only.
At 72 hours post-injury, ONLY the exercise group had an INCREASE in prostaglandins (E2 particularly – necessary for healing). This effect was even more profound at 108 hours after injury. The research team also found DNA synthesis in the fibroblasts (an important part of the repair mechanism) was greatest in the exercise group and was completely lacking in the NSAID-only group.
After reading these studies, you can see why not only do NSAIDs prolong your healing, they also cause more damage! Over 100,000 people per year are HOSPITALIZED because of NSAID use.
Whats the answer?
1. The most important factor in decreasing back pain or headaches is CORRECTIVE Chiropractic care.
2. The next most important factor is EXERCISE and the right kind of exercises based on your xrays.
3. Last is stretching.
These are the 3 most important factors in getting off your dangerous medications and getting your life back out of PAIN.