20 million US adults suffer from the high-impact type of chronic pain. Another 50 million live with chronic pain.
So, it's no wonder that chronic pain costs the nation an estimated $635 billion a year. That goes toward the direct and indirect expenditures resulting from such debilitating conditions.
The question is, what exactly is chronic pain and what makes it such a common disorder? More importantly, is it something that you can treat with the best over the counter pain meds?
We'll get to the bottom of all these questions in this post, so be sure to read on!
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that persists or continues even after 12 weeks of treatment. For instance, pain after a back injury can go on after medications or therapies for three months. Researchers even found that 19% to 56% of auto accident victims had low back pain symptoms for 24 months.
One of the reasons that chronic pain is so common is the high rate of accidental injuries. In the US, one injury-causing accident happens every second. While not all lead to long-term pain, many patients still end up with chronic pain due to accidents.
Some people, however, suffer from chronic pain without prior injury. In many cases, it results from underlying health problems such as chronic fatigue. Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition causing widespread pain, also affects 4 million US adults.
What About High-Impact Chronic Pain?
Like chronic pain, high-impact chronic pain (HICP) also lasts for more than three months. Both types also raise one's risk of mental conditions like anxiety and depression.
However, as debilitating as chronic pain can be, the pain alone isn't enough to disable a person. Whereas high-impact chronic pain restricts at least one major life activity.
In 2016, as many as 83% of people with HICP couldn't work due to their condition. One-third also had trouble taking care of themselves, such as with personal hygiene.
Worse, high-impact chronic pain has stronger ties to mental disorders. People with HICP also have higher risks of psychiatric disorders and cognitive difficulties. Researchers say that HICP patients are far more at risk of having daily or weekly depression.
Can Over the Counter Pain Medications Help?
OTC pain medications (AKA pain killers or pain relievers) are drugs that ease many types of pain. These include headaches, arthritis pain, and soreness or pain from sprains and strains. They are less potent than opioids, which is why you can buy them without a prescription.
Despite this, the best over the counter pain meds can still help ease most cases of minor to moderate pain. OTC pain medicines are either acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Acetaminophen falls under the drug classification, "analgesics" and "antipyretics". Analgesics are pain relievers, while antipyretics are fever reducers. Tylenol Extra Strength is one of the most common and popular OTC acetaminophens.
Researchers still aren't 100% sure how acetaminophen works. However, they do know that the drug's analgesic properties effectively relieve pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs relieve inflammation as well as the pain that it causes. These work by making the body produce less of the chemicals known as "prostaglandins". These substances trigger and encourage inflammation, pain, and even fever.
Treating Chronic Pain or HICP With the Best Over the Counter Pain Meds
Whether you need chronic back or shoulder pain relief medication, OTC drugs can help. Moreover, these OTC pain meds are safer than opioids since they are less potent. This makes them less "addictive" than the more potent prescription pain medications.
Acetaminophen and NSAIDs can be good over the counter tramadol substitute. They may also be sufficient as an over the counter substitute for hydrocodone or Norco.
You may also alternate oral pain medications with external pain relief options. These are topical applications that can work well for painful muscles or joints.
Safety Reminders Before Using The Best OTC Pain Medications
As helpful as they are, it’s best not to use acetaminophen or NSAIDs for more than 10 straight days. It's best to limit the use of these OTC medications only when the pain becomes unbearable. Doing so will help reduce the risks of long-term use side effects, such as stomach pain.
If you're on any other medicine, talk to your doctor first before using acetaminophen. Although this is generally safe for pain, it may interact with other medications.
If you think you need to use NSAIDs regularly, you should also consult with your doctor first. This will help your doctor keep track of possible side effects. You should also take NSAIDs only as directed by your doctor or the drug manufacturer.
Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs also have a "ceiling effect". This means that they have a limit as to how much pain they can ease or control. As such, they won't provide any extra benefit even if taken beyond their effective dosage.
Save Yourself From More Suffering By Using the Best OTC Medications
There you have it, your ultimate guide on the best over the counter pain meds that you can use for chronic pain. If you have minor to moderate pain, consider starting with OTC medications first. Their effects may already be enough to help relieve your pain.
Just remember to take these meds as directed and never go beyond the recommended dosage. This way, you can prevent more (painful) problems from developing.
Ready to get back on your feet with effective over the counter pain medications? Then please don't hesitate to connect with us now so you can start placing your orders for these OTC meds!