The Problem

If you take any of the following nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief you are putting your life at risk: aspirin, celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene). This may come as a shock to you. After all, these drugs have been around for decades and many are available over the counter.

It has long been known that NSAIDs increase the risk of potentially fatal stomach and intestinal adverse reactions including bleeding, ulcers, and perforation of the stomach or intestines. These events can occur at any time during treatment and without warning symptoms. Elderly patients are at greater risk for these adverse events. Aspirin alone causes over 3000 deaths annually in the United States.

NSAIDs, except for aspirin, increase the risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke, according to an FDA advisory issued in July, 2015. The FDA warned that “those serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID, and the risk might rise the longer people take NSAIDs”. “There is no period of use shown to be without risk,” says Judy Racoosin, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Addiction Products. People who already have cardiovascular disease, particularly those who recently had a heart attack or cardiac bypass surgery, are at greatest risk. However, “Everyone may be at risk – even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease,” says Racoosin.

Heavy or long term use of NSAIDs can also cause kidney damage.

Unfortunately, another widely available over the counter pain reliever, acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) also carries significant risks. If used long term at higher than recommended doses or in individuals whose liver function is compromised, acetaminophen can cause liver failure. Liver failure is fatal without a liver transplant. Acetaminophen is the most frequent cause of liver failure in the United States today.

The Solution

With prescription opioids becoming increasingly restricted due to concerns about addiction and overdose deaths, as well as growing evidence that they may cause more pain over the long term, what can a chronic pain patient do?

Fortunately, there are many safe and effective natural treatments for chronic pain. Here are some things you can take for pain relief: medical marijuana, CBD oil, kratom (a Southeast Asian herb that the FDA and DEA are currently trying to ban based on false allegations that it is unsafe), wild lettuce, turmeric, omega 3 fatty acids, homeopathic remedies such as arnica, ruta or hypericum, magnesium, vitamin D3 and many other herbs and nutrients. Here are some things that you can do: acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, EMF treatment, exercise, hypnotherapy, low level laser therapy, massage, nutritional therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapy and much more. Some combination of these treatments can not only reduce your pain, they just might heal the underlying problem and eliminate your pain for good.

To find out more about safe alternatives for pain relief, visit the online Alternative Pain Treatment Directory at The directory has information, products and providers that can help reduce pain.

To continue receiving important information about pain treatment, sign up for our free e-newsletter on the website.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Perlin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, certified biofeedback practitioner and chronic pain survivor. She is the creator of the Alternative Pain Treatment Directory at and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She has been in private practice in the Albany, NY area for more than 25 years.