Virtually every medication has some form of adverse side effect. Not every side effect is serious and not everyone will suffer every side effect, but nevertheless there are side effects. Sometimes these side effects are quite obvious (like the spaced out feeling some of us have got from Neurontin, Lyrica or Topamax) and sometimes the side effects go undetected until years down the track (e.g. liver or kidney damage). Even seemingly mild drugs such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) has serious side effects if used consistently long term. Some common side effects of the medications us back pain sufferers frequently use are:
* Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol/Panadol) –Liver damage
* Aspirin - Gastointestinal problems, including ulcers and stomach bleeding
* NSAIDS - Gastointestinal problems, including ulcers and stomach bleeding, possible kidney damage
* Narcotic-based drugs and narcotic-like drugs – Dependency. Also, many of the narcotic based drugs we take are actually combination drugs that also contain Acetaminphen or aspirin, e.g. Percocet, Percodan, Ultram, Tramadol, etc., and so have the side effects associated with those drugs too.
We all owe it to ourselves when prescribed new medications, to learn what the side effects are. If your doctor doesn’t tell you or plays these down, then go and research them – there are lots of good sites:
…to name a few that I use.
Having said all the above, I think that it is important that we don’t over react to the fact that drugs have side effects and recognise the obvious primary benefit we are getting from that drug. So long as we understand what the side effects are and put in place a plan to deal with these (be it only short term use, blood monitoring, etc.) – kind of risk management – then it’s OK to continue with their use.
What angers me a little is when doctors put us on a new medication without educating us on the side effects of that new drug and even worse if the intention is that we are on it for an extended period of time and there is a risk of long term damage (e.g. liver or kidney damage), without putting in place a regular testing regime.
Just my thoughts…any comments?
...an old timer here and ex-moderator