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OTC NSAIDS Don't Work For Severe Pain, Why Are They Suggested?

First I would like to say that I am a supporter on anti-Inflamatories: NSAIDS ie "Advil", for almost any pain I have had my entire life, over the counter (OTC) dosage has always provided marked relief from pain, even Sciatica in the past. However, the fact that I did not get the same response recently, not only scared me but angered me, because I was told by three Doctors, (two during ER visits due to the enormous amount of debilitating pain I had ever experienced before) everyone I spoke to, and everything I read, suggested I take OTC NSAIDS. After telling one doctor that the medicine wasn't even touching the pain, even at prescription level dosage, I was given a prescription for a dose even smaller than I had been taken. He told me it takes a few weeks for the medicine to start working. After I had told him the cocktail I was taking for a week with no relief: 1600mg of Ibuprofen , 2000mg of Acetaminophen , along with high dosages of "Doans", "Aleve", "Asprin" along with "Icey Hot" and patches that were supposed to help with the back pain, his answer was basically to continue what I was doing but take less medicine. I assured the doctors, all of them, I wasn't looking for pain medicine and even turned down an offer for a "muscle relaxant" prescription. My whole point of starting this topic is; why is it, everywhere I turn, it states OTC NSAIDS will actually help nerve pain when it is at the level far higher than the "norm"? Seeing as I have had a history of back pain, since I was a teenager, having had Sciatica, numbness, burning sensations etc on and off for years, (as I tell every doctor) I am able to compare the current pain with over thirty years of pain that was helped with OTC NSAIDS. So why is it still suggested as something "helpful"?. Other than protocol, there is no reason as far as I can see. If anyone has any suggestion or answers I would greatly appreciate them. Not so much for me currently, because I am no longer in that level of debilitating pain, but for others who may be going through what I was for almost three months. Thanks in advance.


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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    is that it helps many people.

    Many people who have Degenerative Disc Disease use OTC NSAIDs and an approved exercise program to manage and control their pain.

    Thats just one valid reason, minor to moderate pain can be managed using the OTC NSAIDs also.

    Pain is subjective, people are different, so some many benefit for these OTC while others may not.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • by the way going to the ER for pain relief is not a good idea. you should be seeing a regular dr. if you go to the ER for back pain, then you are probably being labed as a frequent flyer, a person who goes to the ER for pain meds. this is probably why the ER doctors are not giving you anything stronger than nsaids. why do you not go to a regular doctor. it is about 10x's as expensive to visit the ER than a regular doctor. major red flag to keep going looking for pain meds wether naisds or narcotics. i don't understand why you keep going to the ER. your bill must be out of site by now. it is about a thousand or so dollars for a regular ER visit. i hope you have good insurance if you have to go, i hope you have all of your test results on hand, mri, cat scan, nerve conduction, discography and on and on. if not they won't believe you or in your case they give you aspirin and say take two and call me in the morning
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I only to ER twice, wouldnt call that a red flag, and i told them I didn't want pain medicine, as I said in first post, I even turned down offer for muscle relaxant prescription.
  • I am surprised that they do. I am heavily tattooed, and have a high tolerance for pain, and have used OTC NSAIDs for years, everything from getting molars pulled to sciatica, from thrown our back that I also went to PT for it was so bad, etc. I have never in my life felt the pain I had when I was first realizing something was wrong, so I assumed others were feeling such pain as I, and I certainly am not a "baby" when it cones to pain. That's why I was so surprised to find and get so little help. I can't be the only one that was having that much pain, that is my thinking.
  • Thank you for all the links Liz. I'll check them out.
  • OTC meds will help nerve pain. In the middle of your post you said nerve pain....

    That is different from...bone pain or muscle pain.
  • Like PP have said..everyone is different, have different pain etc. Personally after my surgery not even strong anti inflammatories for such as IE:Mobic, cataflam. I take 3-9 Advil a day...and that doesn't work for me, but If I don't take those I realt am in trouble. Prior to surgery when I just had some mild disc bulges and such..Advil did help..it also helps with headaches for me too. Everyone is different. It really can help some people. Basically if your doctor doesn't feel that your condition is necsassary for stronger pain meds.. They aren't goin to give it to you.. They aren't trying to torture you. I know you aren't looking for pain medication..so your best bet is to switch off Advil..tylonal and back and forth along with heatig pad and just taking it easy.
    28 F. Chicago. Fusion from t-12 l-4 from scoli in June 2013. Torn bilateral hip labrums. Arthroscopy to fix labrums January 2013 and march 2013. SI pain from hip surgery Lupus, RA, antiphosphidlipid antibody- hypermobility syndrome ( Marfan syndrome)
  • do you have a doctor? even twice to the er is too much. why spend all of that money? so once again do you have a doctor and why don;t you see him instead of going to the er and spending a thousand dollars? seeing a doctor would be cheaper and more efficient. he would have your records and know what was going on with you. an er doctor does not have any idea about your medical condition
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    You indicated
    Corey Mondello said:

    and have a high tolerance for pain,......
    That's why I was so surprised to find and get so little help. I can't be the only one that was having that much pain, that is my thinking.
    So I am not sure what your statement is. When someone has a high tolerance to pain, then normally OTC NSAIDS are more than adequate to manage it. But you say that you are having that much pain. So there is where I am confused.

    Are you saying you need narcotic pain medication to manage your pain? Or does OTC NSAIDs not control major pain.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • are used to treat inflammation, not to treat nerve pain. That is most probably the reason that you didn't get much in the way of relief of nerve pain when using them to treat it.
    Nerve pain needs to be treated with the proper medications, and while anti inflammatory medications can help to reduce inflammation and swelling and in doing so, may offer some relief if the nerve pain is related to inflammation and swelling, they are not going to help if the pain is simply due to a compressed nerve, at least not in any significant amount.
  • I didn't get decent pain relief either until I started a nerve pain medication. You should talk to your doctor about prescribing something that specifically targets nerve pain.

    I think I get what you're saying, you have a high tolerance for pain, but what you're experiencing is beyond even that. .I hope you get some good answers soon, and a medication that will help.
    (see profile for medical details)

    I *heart* my TENS unit.
  • It sounds to me like you either have some kind of condition like arthritis where the normal treatment is NSAIDs or you were getting brushed off, the docs didn't want to give you an opioid. Refusing a muscle relaxer isn't going to make their view of you any more favourable btw. There is one addictive muscle relaxant, Soma, but by and large, they are not what drug-seekers are looking for, so refusing them doesn't exclude you from being placed in that category. It just adds "non-compliant" to your file.

    I agree with you that NSAIDs, Tylenol and aspirin are useless for severe pain, but that is just based on my own experience. I take Mobic, which is an NSAID, along with my Tylenol 3 and Cymbalta, but I don't think it helps any.
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