As a middle-aged athlete trying to reverse the curse of overuse, injuries, and daily stresses of life and the workplace, I have encountered various bouts of lowered fitness due to pain. It is easier than not to just pop a pill and pray that it will take away the pain that you are experiencing. But not all pain medications are the same. This article will help you learn which kind and form is best. Most painkillers fall into two classes:  Acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

First of all you need to decide which brand and type is best for you. Experts say that brand name products are just as effective as generic forms, but be sure to check the label for dosages and possible drug interactions. Active ingredients refer to the drugs that will help you with the pain and inactive ingredients refer to the chemicals such as color, flavorings, or preservatives in the medicine.

You should choose a drug to treat the right kind of pain and note warnings to avoid drug or food interactions. Read the directions carefully because various dosages depend on the brand or strength of the product. The most inexpensive form is a tablet (a pill) that is formulated with a binding agent.

Other forms include a capsule, which is a gelatin container that holds a powered medication; a caplet, which has smooth coating; a gel cap, which is a caplet with a gelatin coating; a gel tab, a tablet with a gelatin coating, and a liquid gel, which is a capsule containing medicine that has liquid medicine inside. Buffered tablets contain an antacid to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach, enteric coating to reduce stomach irritation and is recommended for people who must take medication every day, and extra strength and timed-release effects for those who need lasting, but not immediate relief. Topical pain medications such as sports creams or gels are applied right to the skin. Some varieties include Ben gay®, aspercreme solutions, sports creams, Icy Cold® and Icy Hot®, and Biofreeze®. These topical treatments contain salicylates, the same ingredients found in aspirin. They are great pain relievers that reduce inflammation when absorbed by the skin.
 
Some products are a combination of medicines. Medications may have caffeine in them to lessen pain and some contain antihistamine or diphenhydramine (in the PM varieties) to help you become drowsy. Decongestants help address congestions or cough, and sodium bicarbonate neutralizes stomach acids.  

Acetaminophen (Tylenol® and Pandol®) act on the pain centers in the brain and mask pain. They reduce pain and fever but not inflammation. It helps those with high blood pressure or osteoarthritis. Check with your doctor before taking these medications if you have problems with your liver or if you are pregnant.

Naproxen (Aleve®), asprin (Bayer®), ibruprofen (Advil® and Motrin®), are non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). These drugs reduce swelling and treat muscular problems, arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, gout, dental pain, headache, migraine, or symptoms associated with the monthly period. Aspirin is a pain reliever that is used to treat mild pain or fever. Under a doctor’s care, it is also used to treat heart attacks, prevent strokes, and treat arthritis and inflammation. Children under 12 years of age should only take aspirin under a doctor’s care.

Recommended dosages are 325 to 650 every 4 to 6 hours. Recommended dosage is based on person’s weight and age and varies depending on formulation. Some kinds of pain relievers contain more than one type of medicine, so be sure to check the label. If pain lasts more than 10 days, it should be checked by a doctor.

Christina Chapan

Christina Chapan

Christina Lee Steele Chapan is a certified personal trainer with four certifications from ISSA ACE, AFAA and SCW. She specializes with fitness for children and those adults and children with special needs. In addition to attaining her certifications, she is also a certified elementary and special education school teacher with a B.S. in Elementary Education, a minor in Biblical Studies from North Central University, an endorsement in Special Education, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Development from Governors State University. Her passion is for training the future of tomorrow. She is available for training, speaking and writing.
Christina Chapan

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