Sometimes anti-inflammatories are my best option to manage pain

I need to be better about remembering to take pain meds when necessary

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Note: This column describes the author’s own experiences with anti-inflammatories. Not everyone will have the same response to treatment. Consult your doctor before starting or stopping a therapy.

For someone who daily manages chronic pain, courtesy of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), I’m surprisingly bad at it. Sometimes I don’t manage it at all. I plow through, pretending like the pain’s not there. While feigned ignorance can be useful sometimes, it’s typically not a great long-term strategy. As the past few weeks have shown, sometimes my total oblivion to my own issues will backfire.

I’ve been sore recently, especially in the muscles along my rib cage that connect to my right hip. Carting around my almost-2-year-old niece who’s visiting probably hasn’t helped, but you do what you need to do. I’ve also been incredibly busy with barn work now that I’m on summer vacation as a teacher. I generally manage my pain best by being active, but sometimes I need a little help.

I’m really bad about taking pain medication. And I’m not talking about anything strong — just over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen, or, at most, my prescription for diclofenac. I just forget it’s an option.

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I realize that doesn’t make sense. If I’m supersore and the pain isn’t improving, wouldn’t taking some anti-inflammatories be a logical next step? Yep. But for some reason, doing so rarely crosses my mind.

That’s probably related to how I often cope by pushing forward and blocking out my pain as much as possible. But sometimes I need pain meds to help calm down angry, inflamed muscles. I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently, not because I’m not tired (thanks, EDS chronic fatigue), but because I’ve struggled to get comfortable. It takes me a long time to fall asleep, and once I do, I wake up every few hours because I’m in pain and need to move around.

Recently, I’ve remembered to use my heating pad, which helps calm down the cramping in my back muscles and keep it from getting worse. But I spent almost two weeks with my heating pad before I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should take some ibuprofen before bed.”

Unsurprisingly, I slept better than I had in weeks. The meds helped quiet down the pain enough that I could get to sleep and stay asleep longer before waking up uncomfortable. I was also less stiff when I got up in the morning.

While I try not to take anti-inflammatories too often, sometimes they’re necessary to break the cycle of pain, allowing me to get my symptoms under control. I just need to be better about remembering them!

What’s your relationship to anti-inflammatories? Is it similar to mine? Please respond in the comments below.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Rebecca Colón avatar

Rebecca Colón

I too have horses and do things around my barn. I also have major trouble sleeping due to chronic pain. My right hip subluxed years ago and tore my tendon. I have since reinjured the tendon and it has now detached completely from my hip. The doctor prescribed ER Naproxen and it helps to a degree, but not completely. I hate taking it though because it is hard on my stomach, so I don't take it as often as prescribed. I always forget the heating pad, so I will have to remember to use it!

William Kakish avatar

William Kakish

Diclofenac works the best for pain. Most pain medication is ineffective. Opioids don't work, except tramadol. But mostly I do without. Your body gets used to the pain. I'm 71 now and don't know what it's like to be without pain. Epsom salt baths and taking vitamins and supplements, such as ALA and Curcumin, and B12 have greatly reduced my pain levels, but as usual, there are flares from time to time. That's when I go for the tramadol. I use diclofenac creme daily along with a THC/CBD creme. The THC/CBD is for the knees, diclofenac on hands and feet and sometimes elbows. My mineral supplements (manganese and magnesium especially) really help. But I also have malabsorption. Getting the help of a nutritionist has been very helpful in addressing my pain issues.

Constance Frye avatar

Constance Frye

I took Tramadol for 8 years. Prescribed after a bad MVA in 2/2010 by my RH doctor. I would rarely take them as I too just ignored the pain. Weaned myself off. Constipation continues with UC & Stomach Ulcers a lot of indigestion and heart burn I rarely take Tylenol as I can't take Nsaids. I have bad arthritis, Osteo and Bursitis and who knows what. I use a walker and knee braces and I deal with vEDS as it comes. I had never heard anyone say they forgot to treat the pain I guess used to it...


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