For many people, making a trip to the local pharmacy is usually the first attempt at resolving minor back or neck pain. Though over-the-counter medications may provide much-appreciated relief, there are some potential side effects you should be aware of before stocking up on your preferred remedy.
1. Liver Damage
Acetaminophen is a common over-the-counter medication, but it’s not meant to be consumed on a regular basis. Too much acetaminophen can affect your liver. The recommended amount is no more than 4,000mg per day. Be especially cautious if you’re taking cold medications or other meds that contain acetaminophen.
2. Stomach Ulcers and Bleeding
Aspirin and ibuprofen are generally safe, but they may cause stomach irritation. Chronic reliance on ibuprofen may lead to the development of ulcers, which are often serious by the time the pain becomes a major distraction. Aspirin thins the blood, which can present a problem if you’re already taking blood thinners. If you’re scheduled for spine surgery in Beverly Hills, you might be asked to stop taking aspirin to prevent issues related to clotting.
3. Reduced Effectiveness of Antidepressants
Research suggests nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the effectiveness of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which are commonly prescribed for depression. Because pain and depression are closely linked, the possible connection between the two drugs is worth considering. However, you should never stop taking medications you’re already on without talking to your doctor.
A little-known side effect of the chronic use of NSAIDs is the possibility of having a miscarriage. The risk appears to be greater within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. NSAIDs may affect certain hormones produced as the body prepares for labor. If you’re taking NSAIDs to manage inflammation-based pain while pregnant, speak with your doctor to see if there’s an alternate treatment.
The risk of side effects with over-the-counter drugs is greater if you have a preexisting condition you’re already taking medications to manage or if you’re pregnant. When in doubt about whether or not to use an over-the-counter medication, check with a board-certified spine doctor or ask the pharmacist for a recommendation before making a purchase.
Severe neck and back pain is not usually eliminated through the use of medications. However, there are a variety of surgical and nonsurgical procedures designed to help people live pain-free lives. At the Spine Institute Center, we specialize in spinal fusion surgery and fusion alternatives like the cervical disc replacement Beverly Hills patients sometimes receive. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.