Although it would be nice if regular trips to your chiropractor meant you would never have low back pain again, we just can’t make that guarantee. Sure, there are many studies that prove the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment and its ability to improve function and quality of life. In fact we just posted an article on our sister site, about the many ways that routine chiropractic maintenance will help you feel your best.

But even when you’re taking all the proper steps – eating right to avoid unnecessary inflammation in the body, exercising routinely and getting maintenance chiropractic treatments – you may still find yourself facing an unexpected flare-up.

It could be that you’ve fallen, stressed your back back lifting a too-heavy object, or spent too many hours on your feet. Whatever the cause, there may be a time that you need to take a pain reliever to soothe the aches before making it to your next appointment.

What over-the-counter pain reliever for back pain would you reach for? Ibuprofen? Acetaminophen?

If you’re one of the people who rank acetaminophen as their favorite, we’ll explain why you may be putting yourself at risk without getting the pain relief you really need.

Acetaminophen is the most popular OTC pain reliever in the U.S. In 2009 alone, it is estimated that over 27 billion – yes that’s billion – doses were taken.

Here’s what’s concerning. Acetaminophen has a very narrow safety margin. According to the FDA, “a large fraction of users are close to a toxic dose in the ordinary course of use”.

Most of us have heard about the problems associated with acetaminophen. The risk of liver inflammation and injury is why doctors recommend their patients never combine this OTC pain reliever with alcohol.

But here’s what’s really surprising – a recent review of 13 randomized trials provide evidence that acetaminophen doesn’t work well to treat pain from lower back pain and knee or hip osteoarthritis.

Combine the risk of serious injury with the poor level of effectiveness and you have a decidedly bad combination.

What are your best pain relief options?

For the reasons outlined above, we believe Ibuprofen (Motrin) and Naproxen (Aleve) are safer OTC options. However even Ibuprofen and Naproxen come with potential side effects and warnings. Please remember that whatever your choice, it is always best to consult your physician before use.

If your pain is chronic and you can categorize it as mild to moderate, you may want to try one of the natural anti-inflammatory supplements we offer through our Garland chiropractic office. These professional-grade nutritional supplements, which contain turmeric and ginger, along with herbal pain relievers like boswellia and cat’s claw, offer several distinct advantages:

Very safe with low risk of side effects – There are very few contraindications to taking these supplements.

Offers multiple benefits – Although the main goal is to decrease pain, turmeric and ginger are also powerful antioxidants that can stabilize free radicals. This is important since free radicals are thought to raise your risk of cancer and speed aging. In addition, the herbal combination can help with gastrointestinal problems, naseau and vomiting.

If you believe your pain cannot be controlled by a natural supplement or an OTC remedy, you might want to schedule an appointment with either our MD or Nurse Practitioner. Our doctor and NP can provide an escalated level of care and can offer prescription muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories.

As the situation begins to settle down, we recommend strengthening exercises and rehab to prevent rein jury. We offer a complete exercise rehab department, staffed with and exercise physiologist and license massage therapist.

No matter the cause of your pain, treatment with Dr. Mixon, our experienced Garland chiropractor along our specialized exercise rehab and massage treatment will help you avoid the need for and the risks of over-the-counter pain remedies.

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