Jul 30, 2009

The Dangers of Painkillers for Carpal Tunnel and RSI

If you have to take a pill to counteract another pill, why not just cut them out altogether?

Are wondering how to treat carpal tunnel symptoms? If so, take my advice and don't use painkillers. When I first went to a doctor complaining of wrist pain, she immediately offered me Vicodin. I declined, opting instead to take her suggested daily dose of Ibuprofin. What she didn't tell me was that continuing to take this drug for over a month could give me ulcers and stomach bleeding, and sure enough, one month later I was doubled over in pain after every meal. When I told her this during a follow up visit, she recommended another pill to protect my stomach lining. This seemed pretty counter-intuitive to me. If you have to take a pill to counteract another pill, why not just cut them out altogether? The Ibuprofin wasn't working anyway. I got more pain relief from heating pads and tiger balm. So I stopped taking pain killers, and within a couple months my stomach was back to normal. My wrist pain, unfortunately, was still the same.

If you read the news with any regularity, you've probably already heard about the FDA's recommended ban on the popular prescription painkillers Percocet and Vicodin, because of their effects on the liver. The offending ingredient in both drugs is acetaminophen, aka Tylenol. Although relatively safe at the recommended dose, so many products contain acetaminophen that patients are likely to overdose without realizing it. If you take vicodin in the morning and later use cough syrup, Excedrin or NyQuil, you just overdosed.

The ban will probably not happen any time soon, but the fact that it was suggested is pretty worrying. Unless your carpal tunnel pain is absolutely unbearable, my advice is to beware of drugs. They usually don't help people with chronic wrist pain in the long run, and they may only mask the source of the problem.

21 comments:

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  4. I heard that massaging your wrists when you have carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the therapies to help them. I know a few people who have had it before and I couldn't imagine having a deep pain in your wrists. I would seek therapy as fast as I could because I regularly work with my hands. I wouldn't let my wrists make the day horrible.

    Zach Thalman | http://www.kleisertherapy.com/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/

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