Pain Management

Why Don’t Most Pain Relief Products Work?

Thu, Jan 05, 2023

Why Don’t Most Pain Relief Products Work?

Many people using over-the-counter pain relief products to manage pain will eventually ask themselves, “Why doesn’t this medicine work on me?” It’s not you. It’s the medicine.

Most analgesics, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSIADs), aren’t intended to address the complicated world of pain management for chronic and frequent pain.

These remedies are often used for temporary relief—to treat the aches and pains from overexertion, flu symptoms, toothaches, fevers, or the ubiquitous headache. They don’t address the causes of pain; they treat the symptoms.

Long-term usage of pain medicines can have some serious side effects and complications, from a simple upset stomach to dependency on prescription pain medications.

The Nature of Pain

 Countless over-the-counter remedies really don’t offer much long-term relief.

Affecting an estimated 100 million Americans, pain is often caused by inflammation. Two primary ways to relieve pain is by reducing inflammation or by blocking the pain signals from reaching the brain.

Anti-inflammatory pain relievers, such as the acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin, acetaminophen found in Tylenol, or naproxen sodium found in Aleve, work to reduce this inflammation, thus diminishing the pain.

Opioids, on the other hand, block pain signals from being received by the brain. These drugs often deliver a lot of comfort to patients—for a while. However, they can come with serious costs such as addiction.

Other methods of pain relief include simple remedies like ice packs, topical creams, or doctor-administered steroid injections delivered directly to a specific source of pain like a herniated disc or damaged knee.

Concerns About Aspirin

Even basic over-the-counter remedies can have serious unwanted consequences. WebMD reports that while acetylsalicylic acid, the pain-relieving agent in aspirin, will relieve pain, long-term usage can cause bleeding in the stomach, upset stomachs, and in some cases, ulcers.

Parents need to be super vigilant and never give aspirin to children who are fighting viral infections, such as measles. Aspirin can trigger Reye’s syndrome, a life-threatening condition that attacks the liver and brain. Reye’s syndrome is fatal for as many as one in five affected children. Those who survive could suffer from a permanent disability or mental retardation.

The Trouble With Tylenol and Aleve

The acetaminophen in Tylenol is metabolized by the liver. Long-term use can lead to liver damage. This is exacerbated in people who also drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

Analgesics such as Aleve use naproxen sodium, which is metabolized through the kidneys. Naproxen sodium can, over long-term usage or if not taken as directed, damage the kidneys.

Opioids’ Double-Edged Sword: Powerful Relief, Long-Term Issues

Opioids are a class of drugs with powerful pain relief but that come with some serious concerns, including tolerance, dependencies, and toll on the body. Opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone, and morphine, offer unmatched pain relief, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain.

Opioids are often a necessary component of recovery from surgeries, accidents, and injuries, and they can help people manage pain from cancer treatments or during hospice care. Pain management using opioids is a balancing act, where the need for relief is weighed against the realities of long-term issues.

Even when taken as directed, opioids can be addictive. Eventually more medication is needed to achieve the level of relief experienced when first taking the medication. Intentional or accidental, opioid addiction wreaks havoc not only on the patient, but on their families and society as well.

Why Don’t They Work? Why Do Conditions Actually Worsen?

There are many reasons why pain relief medicines don’t always work. Some medications and treatments simply wear off. Topical creams need to be reapplied. Steroid injections need to be readministered. The body can develop a tolerance to opioids. And occasionally, the injury or ailment is just too much for an NSAID to adequately address.

Basically, pain relievers don’t address the cause of the pain. They simply reduce or block the pain.

When the Pain Becomes Unbearable

When you’re unable to perform daily tasks such as bathing, feeding yourself, or getting dressed, you should seek out professional medical attention. When driving over a speed bump causes excruciating and unavoidable pain, a pain management regimen is required to restore your quality of life.

Whether it’s to address a temporary condition such as recovering from surgery or an automobile accident or to deal with a chronic, years-long affliction, North Carolina Specialty Hospital’s Pain Management team can help.

We’re here to address the underlying causes of your pain, provide you with the best treatment to relieve you of that pain, and return you to the best life possible.

North Carolina Specialty Hospital’s Pain Management team is highly trained in the latest techniques to provide lasting relief and improve lives in a welcoming environment with a state-of-the-art facility.

Take the next step toward freedom from pain. Request an appointment today by visiting our website to contact one of our talented pain management surgeons. Call (919) 956-9300 or fill out our online form for more information.

Stay Current

Educational Articles & More

View News & Press