Pain Relief: Is There an Alternative?

Do you rely on Vioxx, Celebrex or Aleve (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) to ease pain? If you suffer from inflammatory arthritis or pain due to injuries, you probably are familiar with one of these drugs. No doubt you have also heard recent reports linking some NSAIDs with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Belonging to a class called Cox-2 inhibitors, the drugs in question work by reducing inflammation and pain, while having a minimal effect on stomach bleeding and ulcers. But several studies have raised questions as to the long-term consequences of using Vioxx, Celebrex, Aleve and, possibly, other drugs in this classification. What are the facts and do you have an alternative for pain relief?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

- "FDA is issuing an advisory because of recently released data from controlled clinical trials showing that the COX-2 selective agents (Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra) may be associated with an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events (heart attack and stroke) especially when they are used for long periods of time or in very high risk settings (immediately after heart surgery)." Dec. 23, 2004

- "Also, as FDA announced earlier this week, preliminary results from a long-term clinical trial (up to three years) suggest that long-term use of a non-selective NSAID, naproxen (sold as Aleve, Naprosyn and other trade name and generic products), may be associated with an increased cardiovascular (CV) risk compared to placebo." Dec. 23, 2004

The Results:

- Vioxx was voluntarily pulled from the market September 30, 2004.

- The FDA notified healthcare professionals to consider the risk that cardiovascular events may be increased in patients receiving Celebrex.

- The FDA urged consumers buying over-the-counter medications such as Aleve, to strictly follow label directions.

- The FDA is analyzing all available information from recent studies to determine whether additional regulatory action is needed.

Ice Therapy: A Pain Relief Alternative

In this day and age when taking a pill might seem like the easiest solution, it's not always the best. Is there an alternative to medication for pain relief? Yes! One of the oldest and safest methods of controlling pain and inflammation is ice therapy. Proven to be effective at reducing swelling, numbing pain and decreasing muscle spasms, ice therapy is an easy self-care technique. Compared to the medications discussed, ice therapy has no side effects, including the fear of heart complications.

Most doctors and therapists recommend using an ice pack to treat acute and chronic pain, as well as help with joint inflammation.* Using an ice pack immediately after an injury occurs can dramatically reduce recovery time. Every runner knows that icing sore knees after a long run will get them back in the race faster. Ice is also one of the best ways to reduce swelling and bruising after surgery.

What is the best type of ice therapy to use? The easiest is a plastic bag filled with ice and water. But this can be a messy method that does not conform to joints. Some people use a bag of frozen peas. Better -- but not reusable. Plus frozen peas defrost quickly, leaving a soggy mush. A more reliable ice therapy is a commercial cold pack. There are many available with each brand having its own range of features.

If you have decided to decrease your use of pain medication and want a reliable method of ice therapy, look for a commercial cold pack with the following benefits:

- Stays cold for 1 to 2 hours. This allows you to have several icing sessions without wasting time returning it to the freezer.

- Molds flexibly to help you ice rounded areas of the body such as knees and elbows.

- Can be reused many times, which saves you money and offers peace of mind that your ice therapy will be there when you need it.

- Melts like ice. A cold pack that lasts a long time will numb your pain and protect your skin against frostbite better than one that lasts only 30 minutes. Short-lasting ice packs deliver a hard hit of cold with a dramatic drop in temperature, which can hurt your skin.

- Is non-toxic (free of chemicals and dyes) and latex-free to keep you safe from poisoning and skin irritation.

- Has a versatile cover to protect your skin from too much cold.

- Easy to use on any part of the body, again saving you money because there is no need to buy different ice pack sizes or covers to fit different body parts.

Next time you feel a knee twinge or your lower back pain is acting up, reach for an ice pack instead of pain medication. It may save your life!

Ruling from the FDA:
http://www.fda.gov/

For more information on using ice therapy:
http://www.snowpackusa.com/BeInformed.html/

*Special Note: if you have problems with circulation or diabetes, you should consult with your doctor before applying ice therapy.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.

About the Author:
Louise Roach: health and fitness editor, marketing specialist, and product development consultant. She helps others find pain relief through the use of SnowPack Cold Therapy products. Learn more about the benefits of cold therapy at http://www.snowpackusa.com/. Sign up for *free* health/fitness e-newsletter at: http://home.netcom.com/~newsflash/

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