The Trouble with OTC Pills for Knee Pain Relief
Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen have revolutionized the way Americans treat minor pain, but may not be ideal for long term management of knee pain.
In an effort to avoid a trip to the doctor, many people turn to these types of medications to help manage their symptoms. While nonprescription pain relievers can play a role in relieving pain, some studies show they’re being used too often. In fact, according to a recent study, 9 out of 10 Americans take over the counter medications on a regular basis. If you are seeking relief from knee pain and need a solution for long-term pain management, consider all the factors involved with taking OTC medications.
The Problem with Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Since OTC medications don’t require a prescription, many people think they are perfectly safe. But the fact is, these medicines are still drugs. If not used responsibly, they can have a lot of negative effects. Here are some things to keep in mind when taking OTC medications for knee pain management.
Serious Consequences of Improper OTC Use
For many people with chronic knee pain, finding instant relief is the goal. In one recent study, researchers found about 15% of people who use nonprescription pain relievers take more than the recommended maximum dosage. Overuse of these medications can lead to serious health events like heart attacks, liver failure, and much more.
Side Effects of Long Term OTC Use
Side effects of over the counter pain relievers can range from mild to severe, depending on the specific medication, the dose you’re taking, and your current medical history. One of the most common side effects is an upset stomach. Even coated tablets designed to reduce stomach problems can still cause pain and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Like other medicines, most over the counter pain relievers are processed by your kidneys or liver. Ibuprofen, for instance, is processed in the liver, while Acetaminophen is processed in the kidneys. When you take higher-than-recommended doses, it creates a huge strain on these organs. Over time, it can result in permanent damage, organ failure, or death. Other medicines affect your blood pressure or your heart activity, especially if you already have a problem with your cardiovascular system.
Can over the counter pain relievers mask your symptoms?
Beyond these side effects, over the counter pain relievers pose another serious problem. When you take pain medicine to relieve your symptoms, you might wind up postponing getting the medical care you need. By masking the pain, it’s easier to ignore it and the underlying issue could get worse. In fact, by delaying medical care, you can increase the chances you’ll need surgery or other serious interventions.
Knee Pain Treatment at Home
So what is the best way to relieve pain from knee arthritis or other types of knee pain? The answer depends. It’s true—not every type of knee pain requires invasive medical treatment. Some mild or minor knee pain can be successfully treated conservatively, with a combination of home remedies and professional care. In some cases, taking an over the counter medicine might even be part of your knee treatment plan.
Seek Help for your Knee Pain
If you have recurrent or chronic knee pain, you need to find out what’s causing your pain before trying to treat it on your own. The good news is, there’s a very good chance your knee pain can be treated conservatively, without surgery. But to get knee pain relief fast — and to prevent further joint damage — you need to have your knee evaluated as soon as possible.
Dr. Van Thiel at OrthoIllinois is a leader in orthopedics and sports medicine in the Chicagoland area, renowned for developing innovative techniques to treat knee pain and injuries. Upon visiting Dr. Van Thiel for a consultation, he will provide a diagnosis and a custom treatment plan to get you back to the activities you love.