Rebound Pain Another Reason to Stop Using Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

By Michael Turk

michael-turkThe news spells out reasons not to use Cox-2 inhibitors, but there are compelling reasons not to use any anti-inflammatory drugs daily. Daily use increases the intensity and duration of pain. Yes, pain-relieving anti-inflammatory drugs cause pain in several ways. When used daily, they increase the intensity of chronic pain and when used to relieve pain after an injury, the pain lasts longer. Sometimes the prolonged pain hurts more than the original injury. The reason is simple: Anti-inflammatory drugs relieve pain by blocking the production of prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is necessary for rapid and complete healing. Unhealed tissue is hypersensitive and painful. Read the insert included with the drug or check the reference in the Physicians’ Desk Reference. Pain and headaches can be side effects when anti-inflammatory drugs are used daily in the recommended doses.

Anti-inflammatory drugs relieve pain most effectively the first time they are taken. When taken daily, however, they lose their effectiveness. Continued use increases the pain, which becomes a type of chronic pain called rebound pain. Increasing the dosage or changing to stronger pain pills may bring temporary relief, but soon even these strategies fail. Even more cruelly, rebound pain from anti-inflammatory drugs means that other therapies will fail to give lasting relief from pain. As pain becomes chronic, it is often accompanied by stiffness and reduced range of motion. Few sufferers realize that this formula for failure they are experiencing results from their use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

People injure themselves every day while exercising, standing, sitting – even sleeping. These little injuries release prostaglandin and may cause pain. Even when we don’t feel the pain, we react to it by turning in our sleep, shifting our weight while standing and sitting, and changing movements while exercising. When anti-inflammatory drugs are used daily, even little injuries fail to heal completely, leaving a residue of injured tissue in the body. Incomplete healing results in weaker tissue prone to reinjury. When damage accumulates it results in rebound pain.

To understand rebound pain, it is helpful to appreciate how anti-inflammatory drugs relieve pain and how injuries heal. Prostaglandin, one of the first chemicals released after an injury, begins the first stage of healing. This substance causes inflammation, which stimulates the immune system to attract platelets around the lesion, bring white blood cells to protect against infections, and clean up damaged tissue. Sometimes prostaglandin causes pain, both to warn us and to protect an injury from further damage. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Cox-1 and Cox-2 inhibitors suppress the production of prostaglandin. When prostaglandin fails to initiate healing, injuries multiply and accumulate. You can have inflammation without healing, but you can’t have healing without inflammation.

If not anti-inflammatory drugs, what then? The Lotus Guide can help you find alternative therapies to reduce and relieve pain. For example, millions of Americans credit therapeutic massage for reducing their pain. Massage increases the flow of lymph, which carries away metabolic waste and increases the circulation of blood, which brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to fuel the healing process. Regenerated tissue is stronger and more resilient to injury. Therapeutic massage promotes thorough healing and lasting relief from pain.

For more information on what is being offered at East/West Clinic by Michael Turk and others, email or visit

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