The body is an amazing system that was created by millions of years of evolution.  One of the best features is a warning system to alert us if something is wrong—it’s called pain.  If the body senses something harmful, the nervous system sends a signal to the brain to alert us.  Whether it’s your finger touching a hot surface, or an ache in your knee, the level of pain tells us how fast we should stop.   The problem is that people would rather suppress this pain with medication instead of using it to their advantage.  If you do this, you’re only causing more damage to the area. 

 

Abuse

If you look at the directions for pain medication, they prescribe one or two tablets.  Medications are not harmful if you use them periodically.  The scary part is that people are taking more than what’s prescribed and taking them over a long stretch of time.  Users think they’re safe because they can be purchased over the counter.  People will be hungover and they’re so desperate for relief that they think that if one helps, taking three would be even better.  While the bottles have a childproof cap, they don’t have a warning system that slaps your hand if you take more than what’s needed.  I will go to a store and see pain medication bottles of 320 pills!  It would be fine if this was a ten-year supply, but I’m sure for some people this lasts 6-12 months!  That would be one or two a day!  That means you are numbing the pain instead of taking care of the problem.  Not only will the area causing pain become even worse, overuse of pain medications can cause damage to your kidneys and liver.  I’ve already told you that taking pain relievers while drinking can cause problems.  That’s why I always take pain medication with a meal so it’s not so hard on my vital organs. 

 

 

Alternatives

What should you do?  If you have back pain, start a stretching program to alleviate the pain.  If you have discomfort in your knee, go to a specialist who can show you ways to strengthen the area to provide more support.  If it’s arthritis, go to a therapist or search online for physical therapy options.   If you’re hungover, try not drinking so much the day before, or try some of my suggestions.  If not, you’ll just continue the downward spiral of putting your body through excessive abuse.  The result will be aging faster and looking older.  The worst thing you could do is either ignore it or numb it with medication.

 

Headaches

People have been trained to take medication if they have a headache.  This is fine if it’s periodic, but if it’s a chronic problem, you need to find a solution.  First of all, headaches are one of the most common signals that something is wrong with your body.  It could be a number of issues.  It could be caused by dehydration.  If this is the case, drink some water and see if the problem goes away.  There’s also a good chance that it will go away regardless if you take pain a reliever.  If it persists, go to a doctor to find out what can be done.  There are many ways to help like stretching, relaxing, simple exercises or massages.

 

Workouts

A common use for ibuprofen is to reduce the swelling that arises in muscles and joints after working out.  (Please know that Tylenol is used for pain relief while ibuprofen is used for pain, swelling and fever.)  If you feel swelling after exercising, this is another warning system of the body to immobilize the area because trauma has occurred.  It’s a way for you to stop using the area until it has been healed.  While usually it’s not serious, it’s just a way that the body protects itself from further damage.  While the easy thing to do is to pop a pill, I’ve trained myself to apply ice (or a frozen gel pack).  This system is better than medication because it immediately soothes instead of waiting for the medication to kick in.  The treatment goes directly to the area that’s needed instead of numbing the whole body.  What’s even better is that ice is free versus paying for medication.  You may think that applying ice is uncomfortable, but it’s actually a very soothing and rewarding feeling once you feel it on the sore area.  Better yet, this means I don’t have to put my internal organs through one more unnecessary medication.

 

Some people will take a pain reliever BEFORE and after a workout.  Their reasoning is that the ibuprofen will alleviate swelling before you work out so your joints do not swell or hurt while exercising.  Are these people crazy!  Pain and swelling are warning signals from the body!  You may be causing trauma to an area but you don’t realize it because you just numbed the area that needs the most protection.  You may be thinking that you’re maximizing your workout, but in the long run, you’re only causing more harm to the body.

 

No one wants to experience pain.  But if you do, use it to your advantage.   Use pain as an indicator of how to improve your body.  Also find an alternative treatment instead of reaching for the pain reliever.   The more you numb the pain, the faster your body will deteriorate and simple problems become major issues.  Then when you get old, and when you really need a periodic pill to alleviate the pain, a simple aspirin or ibuprofen won’t help and you’ll need something stronger, which will only result in more damage to your body.

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