Whether it’s thanks to back problems, a sports injury, accident or something else, approximately 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain.
That’s almost twice as many as those with diabetes, heart disease or cancer combined. Pain relief usually starts in the local drug store, where options range from the standard (Tylenol) to the seemingly bizarre (a device that shocks your skin). What will actually do the most good and the least harm? According to Joseph Ma, PharmD , associate professor of clinical pharmacy at Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego, there are a few questions to ask yourself when choosing an over-the-counter method of pain relief or deciding when it’s time to see a doctor:
Where is the pain?If your pain affects only a small part of your body, a topical pain-relieving cream, such as Bengay, might help. An advantage of topical creams is that they are localized — you don’t have to take a pill that affects your entire body and may cause unwanted side effects, such as an upset stomach. But if your whole back hurts, a messy cream probably isn’t realistic. So in that case, particularly […]
What’s causing it?NSAIDs usually work well when pain is caused by inflammation — for example, when your muscles are sore after running your first 5K. Acetaminophen eases pain, but doesn’t dampen inflammation.