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Your Choice for Pain Relief?

Posted May 06 2009 2:59pm

The FDA has fought any changes “because senior FDA managers saw them as too offensive to Johnson & Johnson.” However, last week the FDA changed the requirements for the number one pain medication in the United States, acetaminophen.  The new labels will be adding a warning for patients.  Unfortunately, to the general public, over the counter is interpreted as SAFE.  Any drug can hurt you.  You should always use medication as prescribed to reduce your risk.  Even when used as prescribed however drugs can be dangerous.  That is the reason for this new warning.

Acetaminophen is the number one cause of liver failure in the US and has been for some years. Even at recommended doses acetaminophen has been found to cause dangerous liver damage.

“Acetaminophen, sold under the brand name of Tylenol, is widely regarded as the safest pain reliever available, yet the drug accounts for 100,000 calls to poison control centers, 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths annually.”  - Healthfacts

Those numbers are relatively small risk. It is estimated that 100 million people in the US use acetaminophen so the risk of death statistically is about 1/250,000.  Statistics are always hard to grasp and are very misleading.  My numbers, for example, are taken from different articles and different years, so are only approximate.  The number of deaths also is more than just accidental overdoses, but it gives you an approximate idea of how dangerous even over the counter pain drugs can be.

The big concern is the accidental overdoses.  Because people don’t realize that they are overdosing when they take a NSAID for pain and something for their cold.  This is especially true when both medications are “safe.”  There are also increased dangers when people take these after drinking all night to reduce a hangover, or when they haven’t really eaten well in days.

The new labels are only required to list the danger of gastrointestinal bleeding and liver damage in bold.  They leave out the increased risks of high blood pressure and other controversial issues.

So the question is what should the millions of people with pain do? Many groups and websites discuss this question, and the risks and benefits.  The one thing that I haven’t seen them present is the option of chiropractic.  Even in the worst studies chiropractic has been found to be ONLY as good as these medications for everyday aches and pains.  The difference is that chiropractic doesn’t have the major side effects, addresses the underlying problem,  and the risks involved in chiropractic are much lower.

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