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Too many medicines, not enough health

Posted on 12th December 2014 by

At goPhysio, we always like to keep our eye on health related news (and always have an opinion of some sort!).

This week I was interested to read a new report on the number of people who regularly take prescription medication. Half of women and 43% of men in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs, according to the comprehensive Health Survey for England. Cholesterol-lowering statins, pain relief and anti-depressants were among the most prescribed medicines.

What’s scary though is that those figures won’t account for medication available over the counter, like painkillers or ant-inflammatories such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. If these numbers were considered too, the number of people taking regular painkillers would be frightening!

The problem is that people nowadays want an easy, quick solutions to their problems. I’m going to say it, we’re lazy! Rather than doing things to promote health – like taking regular exercise, eating well and living a ‘healthy’ lifestyle, we are falling back on our Doctors to pick up the pieces with a magic little pill! How easy is it to just take a tablet?!

Take back pain, why invest in getting fitter and healthier, loosing weight, taking part in some exercise, educating yourself how to look after your back and invest some time in addressing your back problem when you can take a few tablets every day?

In our physio clinic we see it every day. People see their GPs and are advised to take painkillers. The problem doesn’t get better, so what happens eventually – they have an operation, that’s the solution. Our society is over diagnosed and over medicalised, according to a GP that appeared on the BBC and I totally agree.

Obviously there are cases where medical advancements in drugs is amazing and there are times when medication saves and enhances life and there isn’t an alternative. But, our mind set has to change. Particularly in our field of musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries & pain (affecting the bones, joints, muscles & nerves). A positive, pro-active approach to both preventing and managing MSK issues would drastically cut reliance on pain medication, both prescription and over the counter.

Unfortunately, the culture in this country is that we look for someone else to solve our problems. We’re honest with the people we see in the clinic who come and see us for help. We’re there to support and help recovery for an injury, but it has to be an active partnership. People who come and see us have to be prepared to follow our advice, make changes if necessary, do their exercises and play an active part in their recovery. The result is a greater understanding of the problem and how it happened and making positive steps going forwards to stop it happening again. That’s a long term solution!