Ian W. Cooper
Lately I’ve been having some low back pain. It’s not that bad, but it’s been going on for a week or ten days.
At times like this, there is some temptation to call the doctor and get some painkillers.
On the face of it, it seems pretty logical.
There’s only one problem.
By taking a narcotic pain pill, sure, it kills the pain.
What happens next?
Well. I might go for a walk in the woods. I might clean the bathroom, get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors. I might take my car to the car-wash, mosey around the shopping centre for a while…go dancing, run across a field of long grass, sign up for bungee-jumping lessons…all very well I’m sure.
And sooner or later that pain pill has to wear off.
When you are in pain, that would be your body trying to tell you something. It’s like that old joke.
The guy goes to the doctor and says, “Hey, doc. When I go like this, my arm hurts.”
The doctor says, “Then stop going like that, you dummy.”
The point is that pain is a symptom of some underlying problem. In my case, back injuries going back over thirty years. To mask that pain is to encourage me to go a bit overboard—like renting a kayak and going on a long trip in the wilderness.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? And all it takes is a bottle of pills.
It’s just going to aggravate those old injuries, it’s just going to tear away at those ligaments, those discs, those torn tendons, those compression-fractured vertebrae.
At some point, years ago, I was taking seven or eight Tylenol 3s a day. That’s thirty milligrams of codeine per pill…it is addictive, and it does get you high. It also helped me in some ways. It helped me to go up on a roof and nail on shingles all day long, to hang drywall board, to do commercial interior renovations.
It helped me to make money, essentially. I was also very dependent on them.
Ultimately, I had to get off of them, and I’m a bit reluctant to get started on anything like that again.
It’s not that I have never thought about it, because I have. I was thinking about it this morning, and this is the reason I’m even talking about it. Because this is the best answer that I can come up with.
There are studies that indicate that chemically (or medically), the pain pills tend to increase pain over time. How they do that is a story for someone else to write, but my own explanation is just one aspect of that.
My personal opinion is that light to moderate exercise, when you are not in pain, when your injuries are not inflamed, is not going to hurt you, and it’s probably the best long term treatment for light to moderate chronic pain caused by orthopedic or skeletal injuries.
You’re better off to take as little of that shit as possible.
That’s not to say narcotic pain management doesn’t have a place, because it does—under the proper circumstances and with a doctor’s supervision.
It is not my first resort.