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Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Treatment and medication (medicine) options for an injury

Treatment and medication (medicine)  options for an injury
Published: Jun 19, 2020

Prevention and first aid first

In an ideal world, prevention would work 100% of the time, and a little ice and rest would take care of the rest. However, sometimes medication (medicine) is required to relieve the pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries such as torn ligaments and groin injuries which do not heal as quickly as you would like. In those cases, you might want to know about any recent research on medication options available to decrease pain and swelling from an injury.

Medications to relieve pain and swelling from an injury

There are two major categories of over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain from an injury, Acetaminophen (Tylenol), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Tylenol eases pain without increasing the risk of bleeding. Tylenol does not affect platelet function, whereas NSAIDs do. Never take more than one NSAID at a time. NSAIDs are not an ideal medication (medicine) choice for injuries due to torn ligaments or groin injuries, as some studies show their use may impede healing. Researchers are still evaluating their benefit for muscle or tendon injuries. Topical medications such as lidocaine and Capsaicin may provide some relief without the side effects of NSAIDs.

Side effects of NSAIDs

Taking NSAIDs can have effects on several body systems including the following:

  • An allergic reaction: If you are allergic to NSAIDS, your symptoms may include hives, facial swelling, wheezing, anaphylactic shock, and/or a skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding: NSAIDs can irritate the lining of the stomach and bowel even to the point of a bleeding ulcer. The risk for bleeding is low when users take NSAIDs intermittently. It increases in people over age 65. Anyone with a history of stomach ulcers or who takes blood thinners should avoid NSAIDs. Drinking alcohol with NSAIDs also increases the risk of side effects.  Take NSAIDs with food or milk to decrease the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Heart attacks and strokes: NSAIDs, except aspirin, increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes, especially in people who have recently had a heart attack or stroke. The risk is not as clear in over-the-counter NSAIDs, but users should use the lowest dose necessary to relieve their pain, stop taking NSAIDs as soon as possible and consult a health care provider if you need them longer than a week. 
  • Increase blood pressure: NSAIDs can increase blood pressure slightly and can lead to fluid retention. 
  • Rebound headaches: Suddenly stopping the use of any pain medication, including NSAIDs, can cause a rebound headache. 

Your health care provider may determine your injury requires prescription pain medications for pain control. Prescription pain medications can cause drowsiness, constipation, slowed breathing, and addiction.

Medicine to relieve swelling from an injury

Injuries can cause inflammation. The signs of inflammation are redness, swelling, pain, and warmth due to increased blood flow. Groin injuries from a pulled muscle or torn ligaments can cause swelling because of slight tears in the ligament or muscle. NSAIDs can help decrease both pain and inflammation. However, studies show that NSAIDs may have little value in the healing process of bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries except for the initial phase of ligament healing.

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Medications: risks and benefits

Using medications (medicine) to override your body’s pain response to torn ligaments or groin injuries can impede healing and increase swelling. Pain and swelling are ways your body lets you know that there is damage to tissue. NSAIDs have long been a standby medication to relieve pain and swelling from an injury. However, there is evidence that using NSAIDs to decrease pain and swelling, along with their other side-effects, may impede injury healing. Researchers continue to search for ways to not only decrease pain but also to speed-up healing.

DISCLAIMER

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider.  You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case.  The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice

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