Relief for period pain and general aches and pains

Are you using the correct medication when pain strikes?

10 June 2014
by Rachel McGregor

The niggle: Aches and pains

The prescription: Take anti-inflammatories, but with caution. Rest, ice, compression, elevation are advisable before painkillers.

These are usually one of two kinds, both of which are extremely common: joint pain, or a pulled muscle.

Joint pain is most common in the knee, hip and shoulders, but can affect any part of your body. It’s usually caused by swelling and inflammation, which are your body’s natural healing response. As with any pain, says Dr Raath, if it doesn’t disappear in a few weeks, consult your doctor, because there’s a chance it might be osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis.

For a pulled muscle or twisted ankle, an anti-inflammatory may ease discomfort, but it’ll also prevent you from listening to your body when it tells you to rest and not move the joint. For more effective recovery, it might be better to simply apply hot and cold compresses to the area. It helps to remember the acronym RICE, says Owen: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. For the compression part, a snug-fitting (but not too tight) elastic bandage or compression sock will do the trick. Anti-inflammatories are advisable only after at least 24 hours.

The niggle: Period pain

The prescription: For minor pain, Disprin or ibuprofen. For more debilitating pain, a muscle-relaxant and an anti-inflammatory.

If you experience abdominal pain for only a few days and an OTC painkiller works for you, then stick with that. But if the pain calls for something stronger, try a combination of muscle-relaxant and an OTC anti-inflammatory, says Owen.

Light exercise has also been known to ease symptoms, so try to move around – even though it’s probably the last thing you’ll feel like doing. “If the pain is outside of the menstrual period or accompanied by discharge or an irregular cycle, my advice is to visit a gynaecologist,” says Owen.

Chat to your Clicks pharmacist for guidance on pain medication.