Painkillers: Safe Car Accident Treatment?
The CDC recently announced some startling facts about painkillers. Facts that car accident victims, their lawyers and doctors might want to heed.
After a car accident, it’s common practice for medical doctors to prescribe painkillers and muscle relaxers to ease the pain of whiplash. Giving a car accident victim a trinity of an Anti-inflammatory, a Painkiller and a Muscle relaxer is done without an eyebrow being raised. But is this approach effective? Is it safe? If it has risks, are the benefits worth the risk?
Effectiveness of painkillers and muscle relaxers for car accident whiplash injuries has recently been debated. The Cochrane Group found in a 2007 study that little evidence shows that these drugs are effective for the treatment of mechanical neck pain. The topic of Medications for Treatment of Whiplash was earlier covered in this post.
Regarding safety, plenty of evidence suggests that the U.S. has a prescription drug problem. More people are taking more drugs than ever, and many of the drugs prescribed for pain are highly addictive. But abuse is not the only concern regarding these drugs.
The actual safety of these drugs has been called into question. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that more people die from overdosing on painkillers than from heroine and cocaine combined. They also report that 103,000 hospitalizations occur every year due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory use. An estimated 16,500 deaths occur, that’s more than from AIDS or cervical cancer. So what color ribbon should we wear for the awareness of deaths caused by simple anti-inflammatories? The point is, all drugs, even innocuous drugs like over the counter pain relievers have risks.
Another problem encountered in practice is when patients drive cars, operate machinery and go to work while taking muscle relaxers and painkillers. Doctors prescribe these medications all the time, but obviously do not heed the warnings on the label not to operate machinery while taking them. A dose of either of these medications is similar to having a few drinks. You are intoxicated and liable for DUI if caught driving. Use complicated or dangerous machines at work? How can you safely operate them if you’re intoxicated?
Therefore, the risks of addiction, harmful side effects and being impaired in driving and work must be weighed carefully before taking or dispensing these medications. If a patient has a predilection to substance abuse, narcotics should not be given. If someone has gastric problems, they should not be given anti-inflammatories. If someone is not being taken off of work or admonished not to drive, then painkillers and muscle relaxants should be reserved for at home use only.
Safe and Effective Alternative Car Accident Treatment?
Chiropractic has been shown in many reputable scientific papers to be an effective form of treatment for whiplash injuries.* One of the most important aspects of the success of chiropractic treatment is that it is a mechanical treatment for a mechanical disorder. A car accident whiplash injury involves mechanical, physical damage as well as functional loss. Chiropractic and it’s associated therapies provide mechanical treatments that help heal and rebuild structural damage and provides return of lost function. Learn more about Treatment After a Car Accident here
*Woodward MN, Cook JCH, Gargan MF, Bannister GC, Injury Vol.27,No. 9, pp.643-645, 1996