Do Painkillers Make Pain Worse?

I realize that pain can make you desperate for relief.

Unfortunately, conventional doctors usually just tell you to pop a few over-the-counter pain pills – usually NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – two or three times a day.

Sadly, this is a recipe for disaster.

You see, the kind of excruciating desperation I’m talking about – whether it’s the result of backache, migraine, nerve, joint, or muscle pain – means you to swallow over-the-counter pain pills, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin all day long.

But if your doctor recommends them, then it must be ok, right?


Drug companies note on every bottle that these pills are for temporary use only. It’s not a secret how dangerous they can be.

But the fact is, doctors, recommend them, and millions of Americans take them daily.

It’s a huge problem. Recent research by the Boston University School of Medicine reveals that one out of five NSAID users exceeds the daily limit.1

And studies show that overuse of NSAIDs significantly raises your risk of…

  • Heart attack2
  • Acute kidney failure3
  • Acute liver failure4
  • Gastrointestinal damage5

But it gets even worse…

Not only are common pain meds dangerous with overuse, but a new study also now reveals pain pills can make your pain even worse.

A new study by scientists at McGill University in Canada and published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that taking too many of these common pain meds can turn a twisted back into a desperate, chronic condition.6

The study reveals that people taking anti-inflammatory NSAID drugs to treat pain are more likely to have pain 2 to 10 years later – long past the point when pain is just a symptom but becomes a “disease” in its own right.

The researchers also noticed something else.

Study participants who said their pain went away were found to have rapid and intense inflammation when the pain was acute – but the markers of inflammation then diminished over the next three months.

But those whose pain remained or got worse – even after taking NSAIDs – did not have the expected acute inflammatory reaction.

You see, this isn’t chronic inflammation – the kind that leads to heart disease, diabetes, or various autoimmune conditions.

I’m talking about the rapid, intense inflammation that is your body’s natural immune reaction to injury or neurological stress.

In other words, suppressing your body’s natural immune response to temporary pain with anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals can turn your pain into a debilitating, lifelong condition.

It’s time to rethink the urge to reach for an aspirin or ibuprofen every time something hurts – even if your doctor recommends it.

The good news is that there are plenty of safe, non-addictive, natural, and side-effect-free alternative ways to relieve pain without interfering with your body’s natural responses.

Here are three of my favorites …

    1. Try CBD: Studies show that CBD molecules have a strong inhibitive effect on the TRPV1 receptors, which are found in the endocannabinoid system in the central and peripheral nervous systems. These receptors are key to CBD’s pain-relieving powers. TRPV1 proteins send signals for pain. In states of chronic, neuropathic, or injury pain, your TRPV1 receptors are up-regulated, causing reduced stimulation thresholds and greater pain sensitivity. But studies show that CBD has a calming effect on your TRPV1 receptors. It prevents the TRPV1 protein from triggering the pain sensation.7 I recommend starting with 10 mg of a high-quality CBD oil by placing a few drops under the tongue.
    2. Take ashwagandha: This “smart plant” is also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. In one study, researchers gave 60 arthritis patients ashwagandha or a placebo. After 12 weeks, those taking the herb had significantly less pain, according to three different pain-score tests.8 Take 300 mg to 500 mg twice a day. Or you can buy dried ashwagandha root powder. Look for a product that’s 100% organic with no artificial flavors or colors. I like to add one teaspoon to a cup of hot milk and then add a little honey to taste.
    3. Consider PRP Therapy: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy involves drawing a bit of your own blood and spinning it through a machine called a centrifuge to separate out your platelets. This platelet-rich plasma is then injected into the damaged part of your body. Studies show that it provides powerful pain relief for arthritis, torn muscles and ligaments, knee osteoarthritis, and damaged joint cartilage.9,10,11 If you’re interested in long-lasting, natural pain relief using PRP therapy at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, please call 561-784-7852.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS



1. Kaufman DW, et al “Exceeding the daily dosing limit of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs among ibuprofen users.” Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2018
2. Bally M, et al. “Risk of acute myocardial infarction with NSAIDs in real world use: bayesian meta-analysis of individual patient data.” BMJ, 2017; j1909
3. Dixit M et al. “Significant Acute Kidney Injury Due to Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Inpatient Setting.” Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010. Apr; 3(4): 1279-1285.
4. Mayo Clinic. “Acute Liver Failure.” Available at:
5. Arroyo M, Lanas A. “NSAIDs-induced gastrointestinal damage. Review.” Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol. 2006 Sep; 52(3):249059.
6. Parisien M, et al. “Acute inflammatory response via neutrophil activation protects against the development of chronic pain.” Science Translational Medicine. May 2022, Vol 14, Issue 644.
7. Bley K, et al. “Vanilloid Receptor TRPV1 in Drug Discovery: Targeting Pain and Other Pathological Disorders.” New York, NY: Wiley; 2010:325–347.
8. Chopra A, et al. “Ayurveda–modern medicine interface: A critical appraisal of studies of Ayurvedic medicines to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.” J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2010;1(3):190–198.
9. Mishra A and Pavelko T. “Treatment of chronic elbow tendinosis with buffered platelet-rich plasma.” Am J Sports Med. 2006 Nov; 34(11): 1774-8.
10. Sampson S, et al. “Platelet-rich plasma injection grafts for musculoskeletal injuries: A review.” Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2008; 1: 165-174.z.
11. Smyth NA, et al. “Platelet-rich plasma in the pathologic processes of cartilage: Review of basic science evidence.” Arthroscopy. 2013; 29(8): 1399-1409.