ZORBA PASTER, MD: We cannot test for chronic pain. There is no way that we have a meter. There is no pain-o-meter. We can test for blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, but we can't test for pain.
ANNOUNCER: And chronic pain often affects people day and night.
ZORBA PASTER, MD: Chronic pain is an important cause of insomnia. If you're trying to go to sleep and you hurt, it's hard to get to sleep. If you do get to sleep and you hurt, you're much more likely to wake up.
ANNOUNCER: Patients can find non-prescription pain relief at the local drug store, in the form of ice packs and over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen. A group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs can also help provide pain relief. Common older NSAIDs include ibuprofen and aspirin.
But most NSAIDs may cause serious gastrointestinal problems, especially with long-term use.
ZORBA PASTER, MD: The side effects of anti-inflammatories include GI bleeds, bleeding from the stomach.
ANNOUNCER: Once patients are diagnosed with chronic pain, doctors may turn to prescription NSAIDs. One type of prescription NSAID, called a COX-2 inhibitor, is thought to be less likely to cause intestinal bleeding than older NSAIDs.
ZORBA PASTER, MD: They were developed to reduce the risk of GI bleeds. Now, do they carry a risk of GI bleeds? Yes. They are better on the gut. They're a little bit easier. They're not as likely to cause a GI bleed.
ANNOUNCER: COX-2s have been associated with serious heart complications in patients and some have been taken off the market.