Don’t mask the pain

Play Time | October 01 2013

Athletes that play through injuries are often applauded and admired because they are sacrificing themselves for their team, but the short term effects of this sacrifice may lead to a long term problem and chronic pain. Treating patients
that have acute pain through over-the counter and prescription medications is not the ‘best medicine’ because it often masks a more serious problem and does not address the source of the pain. In reality, some anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroid  can be detrimental if used regularly, and many people do not realize
that. Either that or they don’t want to know. They only see the short term effect and that the medication they are using will help them get through their next game or eight hours at a desk.
Acute pain from a sports related injury or from shoveling snow can manifest as a chronic problem if not taken care of. Merely masking the problem with a drug will not make it go away.

Pain relievers such as Advil, Tylenol, or Aleve used to mask injuries take away the body’s sensory receptors for pain.

Regular use can leave the person worse off in the long run, leading to chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Whether you are an athlete or an accountant, whether your pain is physical or mental, covering up pain with medicine can be detrimental or even deadly. Patients come to me with pain because that is the kind of practice  I have. I help people take care of their pain and if I can’t help, I send them to someone that can.
I will give you a perfect example of why masking long term pain is not a good idea. I had a 68-yearold male patient with
a history of low back pain. He had the pain for two months and, like most of us, he took Advil and ignored it until his wife made him an appointment with me. After taking his history, I decided not to treat him until I got some x-rays and some blood work. Something told me that it was more than mechanical low back pain. I also asked him to get into his regular doctor for a second opinion. Two days later, he returned to my office. I did not have his x-ray report yet but he was
carrying a copy with him. We sat in my treatment room before I looked at the report and he told me the results.
His MD told him he  had Stage 4 cancer that had spread to his bones and he had about six months to live. I was in tears as he told me not to fret, he had had a good life. He did say that had he not ignored his pain or masked it with the medications, he may have had longer with chemo and radiation therapy. So, as you can see from the harsh reality
of my story, masking pain with medications is not the best idea. You could be covering up something far worse than you can imagine.

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