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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Daily Dose

Finding drug-free techniques to treat chronic pain

Nearly half of all Americans contend with chronic back pain, headaches, or joint discomfort at some point, yet painkillers to bring relief have recently come under increased scrutiny for their health risks.

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration put new warnings on extended-release opiates, such as OxyContin and Opana ER, to make clear that they should be used only as a last-resort treatment for those in severe continuous pain; that’s because of the addiction risk, even when used at recommended doses, and of accidental overdose and death. Chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen have long been known to increase the risk of ulcers and internal bleeding, but even the seemingly innocuous acetaminophen (Tylenol) has risks.

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