Well this news gives me a headache: new research has found overuse of certain drugs including ibuprofen to relieve short-term pain, specifically lower-back pain, could increase the chances of it developing into chronic pain down the track.
Ibuprofen is a common anti-inflammatory which can relieve pain, specifically joint and muscle pain including period cramps, pretty quickly through a simple over-the-counter pill.
But a small study by researchers at McGill University in Canada found a link between anti-inflammatories and chronic back pain (the most common form of chronic pain) after injury which honestly could explain a lot for me.
As someone who pops ibuprofen constantly for — get this — back pain, let’s just say I’m concerned.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts beyond normal healing time, meaning it persists longer than expected after an injury or incident.
The study argued that when your body is recovering from an injury, that process naturally involves inflammation. It’s the body’s reaction to injury and infection. But this research suggested inflammation actually has a protective effect which could prevent acute pain from becoming chronic. Therefore, blocking inflammation with drugs could lead to worse or more complex health issues in the future.
Little is known about why acute pain can be resolved in some patients with pain killers like ibuprofen but persists as chronic pain in others so researchers attempted to find out how the body resolves such pain.
Researchers followed 98 patients with acute lower-back pain for three months and found that some white blood cells that help the body fight infection play a key role in both healing and removing pain.
By blocking these white blood cells it found that the pain could linger up to 10 times longer (!!!).
Researchers said further studies were needed and we didn’t need to go and throw away our anti-inflammatories and stop treating our acute pain. Please follow your doctor’s advice! But still, yikes. Gonna go do some stretches.