If you struggle with back or neck pain, you’re probably well acquainted with over-the-counter pain relievers. These medications have come a long way. Just a few generations ago, the only available pain relief options were aspirin, sulfur pills, steroid injections, or gold injections. Today’s pain relievers make you more comfortable without steroids. Although they may be effective for reducing aches, they don’t necessarily treat the source of the problem.
Are Over the Counter Pain Relievers Like Advil Good to Use?
It’s fine for most people with neck or back pain to use over-the-counter pain relievers periodically. If you have acute discomfort, you will likely experience some pain relief within 20 to 30 minutes of taking the medication, but over-the-counter pain relievers have some limitations.
Advil is a brand of ibuprofen. It’s a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with pain-relieving properties. It changes the way that pain messages are transmitted within your central nervous system. As it dulls the ache, it also reduces inflammation. Because swelling can make you hurt, diminishing it brings about pain relief.
Tylenol, a brand of acetaminophen, also has pain relief properties. It interferes with pain signals. However, it doesn’t have anti-inflammatory properties.
These two over-the-counter medications offer different types of pain relief. If your discomfort is caused by inflammation, ibuprofen might be the better choice for short and long-term pain relief. However, if the pain stems from a non-inflammatory condition, either option could help you feel better temporarily, but the pain likely won’t resolve until you treat the issue that’s causing it.
What Are the Risks of Using Over the Counter Pain Relievers?
Short-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers is generally safe for most people. However, like any drug, over-the-counter pain relievers are associated with certain side effects. The risks are minimal and mild for healthy people who take the medication occasionally. Long-term, high-dose, or frequent use of the drugs increases health risks and should be monitored by a medical professional.
Moreover, Advil and other drugstore pain relievers affect the entire body rather than targeting the points of pain. Therefore, you’re unnecessarily exposing healthy parts of your body to the drug when you take it for pain relief.
Some of the risks associated with ibuprofen include:
- Gastrointestinal tract damage and bleeding
- Skin reactions
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Kidney problems
Acetaminophen carries similar risks. However, it is not known to have gastrointestinal side effects.
If the recommended dose of a medication isn’t touching your pain, you may be tempted to take more than you should. People with chronic pain often take NSAIDs and analgesics regularly. Frequent, regular use of these medications can produce a tolerance.
You might be maxing out on the medication’s pain-relieving effects if you keep increasing your dosage because the medication doesn’t work as well as it once did. Plus, you increase the risk of developing detrimental side effects.
If you have an acute injury or swelling, taking over-the-counter pain medication allows you to stay comfortable while your body’s natural healing mechanisms are at work. But if the pain persists, you’re not going to experience lasting relief until you identify and treat the root of the problem.
How Can I Treat My Pain Without a Medication Like Advil?
The body is complex. There is no magic pill to make pain go away. Most health issues, including pain, respond best when they’re addressed with a well-rounded, multifaceted treatment plan.
The specific approach depends on your diagnosis. An exercise that relieves neck pain in someone with arthritis might not be appropriate for someone who is recovering from a motor vehicle accident.
A strain usually benefits from NSAIDs, rest, ice, and compression, but being sedentary can exacerbate the discomfort. Dr. Craig Callewart can assess the condition and recommend gentle movements that will help you regain full function as you heal.
A structural problem can be resolved through a variety of surgical and non-surgical treatments. Structural issues can irritate tissues and pinch nerves. We help patients address all of their pain points using a broad range of evidence-based methods.
Common Treatment Options for Back and Neck Pain
Some of the most common approaches for treating back pain and neck pain include a combination of physical therapy, medication, and other non-invasive therapies. After Dr. Craig Callewart identifies the source of your pain, he will discuss recommendations for treatment.
Besides over the counter pain medication, the most conservative measures that can do wonders for pain relief include:
- Improving your posture
- Performing targeted exercises
The following treatments for neck and back pain can also be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment plan:
- Spinal decompression – A method of stretching the spine that improves the positioning of vertebrae, improves blood flow to the affected areas and enhances your body’s natural ability to heal
- Cold therapy – Minimizes pressure, swelling, and pain and can be done in the office or at home
- Physical therapy – Has a wide variety of applications, including reducing chronic pain, enhancing mobility, and encouraging optimal functioning of all bodily systems
- Injections – Epidural and facet joint injections take only minutes to perform and relieve irritation, inflammation, and pain
- Surgery – Used in severe cases when other treatments have not been effective, surgery offers relief from chronic and intense pain and dysfunction
Are You Ready to Eliminate Your Neck and Back Pain for Good?
Advil and other over-the-counter pain relievers may help you feel less pain, but they have risks, especially if you take them for a long time. If you want to resolve your back and neck pain issues, you should get a proper diagnosis. Understanding the cause of the pain allows us to develop an effective treatment plan. Dr. Craig Callewart specializes in helping patients alleviate pain so that they can live life to the fullest. Contact us to schedule an appointment and stop pain from holding you back.