Use Wisely

Effective pain meds

There are plenty of cutting-edge, mind-numbing, and alternative pain treatments out there. But some of the most powerful tools are also the most accessible. "People think ice, Tylenol, and ibuprofen aren't effective because you can get them from your freezer and 7-Eleven," says Stanford's Rohlen. "That's a tragedy. If used correctly, they can do wonderful things." Here's what you need to know about popular pain meds.

TOOL: IBUPROFEN (ADVIL, MOTRIN)
BEST FOR: Reducing swelling, pain, and post-exercise stiffness
HOW TO USE IT: Use in conjunction with ice; rotate with acetaminophen to mitigate risk of stomach trouble

TOOL: ACETAMINOPHEN (TYLENOL)
BEST FOR: Temporary pain relief. Doesn't reduce swelling; easier on the stomach than ibuprofen
HOW TO USE IT: Rotate with ibuprofen to mitigate possible risk of liver damage

TOOL: OPIATE-BASED MEDS (VICODIN, DEMEROL)
BEST FOR: Post-surgical pain or broken bones—not sports pain
HOW TO USE IT: Don't. These can cause nausea, constipation, and addiction—and lower pain tolerance

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