Why your painkillers stopped working

Picture a fire extinguisher that, on occasion, shoots out gasoline.

Even if it puts out fires SOME of the time, it'll make them WORSE the rest of the time.

Of course, no one in his right mind would design a fire extinguisher like that.

But that's exactly what we have right now in the world of medicine -- as new research confirms that opioid painkillers can STOP pain some of the time, but actually make it WORSE at other times!

These drugs seem to block the natural painkiller you have in your body.

That built-in system isn't perfect -- you still feel pain, and sometimes it can get pretty bad -- but it helps dial it down a little.

Take opioids, however, and all bets are off. The new review of some 200 studies shows how those drugs can alter your brain, causing you to lose that natural ability to fight off pain on your own.

The result?

It's a real-life version of that hypothetical fire extinguisher, fanning the flames of your pain instead of putting them out.

That leads to more pain, more often. You get worse instead of better -- and that pretty much guarantees you'll continue to use the drugs.

It can increase your risk of abusing them, too.

Think that's bad?

That's only the beginning -- because the new study also spells out some of the OTHER risks of these drugs, including a few your own doctor won't warn you about.

Folks who take opioid painkillers, especially for chronic pain, have a higher risk of battling serious infections.

They can alter your hormones, mess with your mood, and cause sleep disorders, including breathing difficulties at night.

They can also fog your mind and leave you unsteady on your feet, making you more likely to fall. That's a problem at any age, but for older folks, falls can lead to a devastating injury.

They can even cause cognitive problems -- again something that's especially dangerous to older folks, who already face a higher risk of these conditions.

Don't add gasoline to the flames of your pain.

Along with pointing out the problem, the new study goes a step further and actually endorses some of the very same pain-relief techniques I recommend to my own patients, including acupuncture and exercise.

Both of those are excellent options for many forms of pain, but don't stop there.

Massage therapy, acupressure, cold laser, and more are all excellent ways to fight chronic pain, although the best one for you will depend on the cause of your pain.

Speak to a holistic medical doctor experienced in natural pain relief -- and for help dealing with one of the most common forms of chronic pain, keep an eye out for Sunday's House Calls.