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Pain Medicine and COVID-19: What You Should Know

As you navigate your personal health situation during the pandemic stages of COVID-19, there’s plenty of information circulating, both good and bad. Since the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is new and not seen before, the situation changes rapidly, reflecting new discoveries by doctors and researchers.

A secondary problem surrounding COVID-19 is the effects on personal health management. New and previous conditions unrelated to the pandemic continue and, in some cases, become more difficult to manage with lockdown and quarantine routines in place to prevent further spread of the virus, especially to those more vulnerable to the disease.

As a pain management practice, Westside Pain Specialists wants patients to have the best knowledge on self-treatment of aches and pains through this challenging time. 

Dr. James Nassiri urges those with more complex pain management needs to stay in touch through the days ahead to prevent having to live with unnecessary pain. Here’s what you need to know about pain medicine during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pain relievers and the media

In early March 2020, news stories emerged based on a letter published in The Lancet, a prominent medical journal. The letter discussed how the amount of an enzyme in the body increases with certain pain medications, which in turn might make COVID-19 symptoms worse.

This class of pain medication is made up of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (available generically or under the brand names Advil® and Motrin®), and naproxen (also available generically or with the Aleve® brand name).

The Food and Drug Administration weighs in

On March 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory commenting on the Lancet letter. At that time, the FDA revealed that they had no evidence of a connection between NSAIDs and negative effects on COVID-19 symptoms.

While pointing out that there are over-the-counter alternatives to NSAIDs, the FDA felt that existing label warnings for these medications are sufficient. The agency said that while they were continuing to monitor the effects of NSAIDs on COVID-19, these remained safe to use as directed by package labels or at the discretion of health care professionals.

The role of acetaminophen

Though not the only alternative to NSAIDs, acetaminophen, best known by the brand name Tylenol®, is generally the preferred pain reliever since its effects are like NSAIDs when used for fever reduction and pain relief, with fewer side effects or toxic tendencies. Because of this, acetaminophen is one of the over-the-counter alternatives to NSAIDs suggested by the FDA.

Pain relievers and COVID-19

There’s no reason to change the way you use over-the-counter pain medications. There’s no clinical evidence that these common drugs mask or aggravate COVID-19 symptoms, and when used as directed, they remain safe and effective for managing aches, pains, and fever.

Patients taking prescription medications under Dr. Nassiri should contact Westside Pain Specialists at the offices in Beverly Hills or Rancho Cucamonga, California, to discuss any concerns they may have about their medications or their vulnerability for COVID-19 infection. You can also send a message to Dr. Nassiri and the team here on the website.

As always, there’s no reason you should live with untreated pain, and Dr. Nassiri is here to help. 

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