Imagine living in pain for years only to find out that one of your medications is the cause that you are in pain. Medications are supposed to help – not hurt… right?
Unfortunately, some common pain medications can cause pain, even the ones available without a prescription. Some cause headaches… others cause foot pain. Wherever there is pain, a medication may be the root cause of it.
And, it’s not like us Americans go lightly on drugs. In 2016, we spent 328.6 BILLION dollars on prescription drugs. That works out to just over $ 1,000 spent for every man, woman and child in the whole country.
In addition to that, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association reports that there are 2.9 BILLION retail trips in America to purchase Over-The -Counter (OTC) drugs. The average household spends about $ 338 per year on OTC products. It is a very common misconception that OTC are completely safe to use – since they are widely sold. As we are about to see, that’s just not true.
OTC MEDICATIONS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ISSUES… INCLUDING PAIN
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs): this includes aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve). One of the major side effects of NSAIDs is irritation to the lining of the stomach… which often leads to stomach pain. If these medications are used regularly and at higher doses, not only are you at risk of stomach pain – but possibly stomach bleeding and stomach ulcers… which could be life-threatening if severe.
An often overlooked effect of NSAIDs is the mechanism they use to get rid of the pain. Specifically, NSAIDS slow the production of Prostaglandins, which are fat based compounds that have a hormone-like effect in humans. Prostaglandins are involved in the regulation of inflammation… which is the primary cause of pain.
The NSAID reduces the amount of Prostaglandins that are made. In turn, it is the role of the Prostaglandin to make blood vessels in the area expand, which we call vasodilation. The vasodilation is nature’s way of healing a damaged bodily area, which is usually why pain started in the first place. In other words, more blood will normally flow to a damaged, painful body part.
But since the NSAID reduces Prostaglandins, which in turn reduces blood flow, it delays healing. The bottom line is that pain is reduced at the cost of delaying healing of the painful area.
2) Acid reflux medications known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium and others). Gastroesophageal reflux disease, known as GERD or acid reflux, is so common that these medications (some are prescription and some are OTC) are the third highest-selling class of drugs in the United States. It is estimated that 40% of US adults take this medication.
These meds are highly effective at reducing stomach acid and relieving heartburn, but it comes at a high price. Reducing stomach acid is likely to interfere with the ability of your body to extract vitamin B12 from foods. In one study, up to 75% of PPI users were deficient in vitamin B12… which can lead to shooting or burning nerve pain as well as brain fog and a loss of energy.
Regular use of PPIs is common… if you try to quit suddenly, a phenomenon called “rebound” occurs where stomach acids comes flooding back in and makes your heartburn worse than ever. It also leads to poor absorption of magnesium and magnesium deficiencies. Symptoms include fatigue, numbness/tingling, seizures, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramping, and a general increase in pain levels.
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS THAT OFTEN CAUSE PAIN
- Cholesterol lowering medications – Statins (Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, etc): these drugs cause your liver to temporarily stop making cholesterol by poisoning an enzyme called HMG CoA… which can lead to liver damage. Besides being a fallacy that cholesterol causes heart attacks (more than 50% of patients that visit the ER with heart attack symptoms have normal cholesterol), statins have many harmful effects on the body.
Statins reduce CoQ10, which is an enzyme needed by the energy factories of the cell called mitochondria to produce ATP – the body’s energy supply. This can lead to muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, peripheral nerve pain, ALS and joint pain (especially chronic neck pain).
Statins also lower the level of vitamin D3 in the body. Since D3 is a major anti-inflammatory hormone-like vitamin, the result is a marked increase in pain. Please see the article I wrote here.
In my opinion, chronic pain sufferers must avoid statin drugs at all costs. They cause kidney damage, liver damage, contribute to Alzheimer’s, cause many heart problems including heart failure and irregular beating, muscle pain, joint pain and are linked to many forms of cancer.
Let’s face facts: when you’re in pain… who needs to deal with all these other health issues? Especially when statins do not prevent heart attacks and clogging of the arteries. Ask your doctor about ways to taper off these drugs. Better yet, consult a naturopathic practitioner to learn other methods to keep your ticker in good shape.
2) Diabetes drugs – Januvia, Onglyza, Tradjenta, Nesina: this is a class of drugs that work by making more insulin available to the body. Januvia was first approved in the U.S. in 2006.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that this class of drugs, called DPP-4 inhibitor medicine, technically known as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, may cause joint pain (think neck pain) that can be severe and disabling.
The drugs are already linked with some potentially severe side effects. For example, Januvia can cause severe inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis that not only is extremely painful… but can be deadly. Onglyza has been linked to a higher risk of heart failure.
The FDA adds: “Patients should not stop taking their DPP-4 medicine, but should contact their health care professional right away if they experience severe and persistent joint pain. Health care professionals should consider DPP-4 inhibitors as a possible cause of severe joint pain (including neck pain) and discontinue the drug if appropriate. Patients started having symptoms from one day to years after they started taking a DPP-4 inhibitor. After the patients discontinued the medicine, their symptoms were relieved – usually in less than a month. Some patients developed severe joint pain again when they restarted the same medicine or another DPP-4 inhibitor.”
Here’s my opinion: most diabetics can manage – or even cure – their diabetes through proper use of the Paleo diet along with supplements such as berberine, banaba root, coconut oil and stevia… with virtually no side effects. Why would you want to be a lifelong user of these drugs? They’re expensive and dangerous, which is great for Big Pharma’s bottom line.
3) Opioid pain medication – Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, Morphine, etc. Using any of these medications for more than a few days causes the body to build up tolerance, which means you must take more of the medication to achieve the same level of pain relief. In addition, it has been shown that this class of drug actually LOWERS the body’s tolerance for pain if taken for too long. Please see my article here.
4) Antidepressants – SNRIs: drugs such as Venlafaxine ER (Effexor XR)… which is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It increases the level of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which are both neurotransmitters, and is prescribed for major depressive disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and other brain and nerve disorders. Studies have shown that 10% of folks taking SNRIs have joint pain or neck pain.
5) Antibiotic – Levofloxacin: (Levaquin) this is a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, often prescribed for sinus infections and pneumonia. Research has shown that muscle and joint pain (including neck pain) occurs in 25% of patients taking this antibiotic. That is regardless of the person’s age, how long they take it, or whether or not they have a history of arthritis. Symptoms usually started about 3 days after starting levofloxacin and resolved about one week after discontinuing it.
6) Osteoporosis medication – Risedronate (Actonel): medication commonly used to treat weak and brittle bones. Risedronate prevents the minerals in bones from dissolving and leaking back into the bloodstream. But… up to 30% of people taking it report joint aches and pains. Other osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax (alendronate) and Boniva (ibandronate) – which belong to the same class of drugs as risedronate – known as “bisphosphonates” – curiously do not carry the same risk of joint pain.
7) Asthma inhaler – fluticasone (Flovent): is a steroid inhaler used for the long term control of asthma symptoms. About 19% of users report joint pain. Other steroid inhalers, such as Pulmicort (budesonide) come with fewer risks of joint pain.
8) Breast cancer chemotherapy drugs – Arimidex (Anastrozole), Aromasin (Exemestane), Femara (Letrozole): these drugs belong to a class known as “aromatase inhibitors”… they either block estrogen hormones from being made or block estrogen’s effect on the body. All three of these medications are usually taken for years to prevent breast cancer from recurring. Up to half (50%) of all women taking them experience joint pain.
9) Nerve Pain/anti-seizure medication (Pregabalin): Lyrica (Pregabalin) is prescribed for certain kinds of nerve pain issues, like those related to fibromyalgia and diabetes. It is often used to treat seizures. Joint pain occurs in about 6% of those patients that take it. If you experience joint pain with pregabalin, consider talking to your doctor about Neurontin (gabapentin), an alternative medication that is useful for many of the same health issues as pregabalin and yet does not carry the same joint pain side effect.
10) Estrogen medication (Premarin): Premarin is a conjugated estrogen source. It is a hormone medication that many women take to treat hot flashes and other symptoms related to menopause or low estrogen. Up to 14% of women using this medication have joint pain.
11) Blood pressure medication (Carvedilol): Coreg ( Carvedilol) is a type of medication known as a “beta-blocker”, which relaxes the muscle cells in the heart and blood vessels to lower blood pressure. It is used to treat patients with high blood pressure – and those with heart failure where the heart cannot pump adequate blood to the body. Joint aches and back pain are reported in about 6% of patients taking it.
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