Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Are You a Pill-Popper?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, July 29, 2008

When it comes to handling pain, are you a pill-popper? If you’re one of the millions who reach toward the medicine cabinet when you feel a headache or other pain coming on, take note: According to a recent study, you might actually be making the pain worse over the long run.

Researchers found that daily or near-daily use of over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription painkillers was associated with chronic headaches (especially chronic migraines), and to a lesser extent, with other common, chronic pain conditions, including neck and back pain. For example, daily use for one month increased the likelihood of suffering chronic migraines nearly threefold, and chronic neck pain and chronic back pain nearly twofold.

If that isn’t frightening enough, researchers discovered that subjects who took painkillers daily for more than six months (more common than you might think) were more than 20 times more likely to suffer chronic migraines, 3.5 times more likely to suffer chronic neck pain, and 3.5 times more likely to suffer chronic back pain.

If just thinking about these figures gives you a headache, don’t reach for the medicine cabinet! Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gray or your local chiropractor, who is trained to manage these types of conditions – and minimize their recurrence. For more information on the potential dangers of OTC and prescription medications, visit www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general/drugs.

Reference: Zwart J-A, Dyb G, Hagen K, et al. Analgesic overuse among subjects with headache, neck and low-back pain. Neurology 2004;62:1540-44.

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