Having worked as a chiropractor for over 15 years, I’ve seen many people with pain complaints, be it low back pain, chronic neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, headaches, the list goes on and on. And almost all of them at some point have taken pain killing medication for either a short or often a long time. Because that’s what we do. We injure ourselves and our culture tells us the first line of treatment is medication…. And most of us now know that we have to be careful with certain drugs because of side effects such as stomach bleeding, but we know the risk and we take it.

However, new research is coming out around the common painkillers including paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofren that I for one find quite disturbing. 

A study in Finland looked at people who had been convicted of homicide (that’s murder in English). They 959 convicts and compared them to 9000 individuals who had never been convicted and compared their medications. They were looking for a correlation between SSRIs (anti-depressants) or anti-psychotic mediations. Instead they found a much higher correlation between opioid painkillers such as codeine and non-opiod painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin (WorldPsychiatry, 2015; 14:245-7)

In another study, people taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol had their responses to painful experiences blunted (not just their physical responses), and became less empathetic to other peoples pain and suffering. It appears that they hinder an individuals ability to put themselves in someone elses shoes and feel that persons emotional and physical pain (PolicyInsights:BehavBrainSci, 2018; 5:82-9)

A further study on Paracetamol shows that is dulls our senses, not just our pain. It blocks both the emotional highs and lows (Psychological Science, 2015; doi: 10.1177/0956797615570366).

In the 15 years I’ve worked, I’ve seen a massive increase in the use of these drugs. More and more people seem to have them as a standard part of their lifestyle, popping them with little thought for the potential implications on their mental health. So next time you’re in pain, ask – do I really need to medicate this or is there another way?

Chiropractic is a drug free approach to health and wellbeing.