My father-in-law is constantly buying "miracle" pain pills. Any suggestions?

Asked by

My father- in-law is constantly trying to find a quote "quick fix" to help with the pain in his knees. I told him most of these are scams. Some do interfere with his meds. His sons will not do anything, and I think they need to.

Answers 1 to 10 of 13
Top Answer
Abf, sometimes people refuse to believe these miracle cures, presented in TV ads, aren't the real thing, there isn't anything we can do. As long as Dad-in-law is of clear mind and can afford to purchase these miracle cures, let him try them out.

You mention some of these cures are interfering with Dad-in-law's meds.... thus the next time Dad-in-law needs to see his primary doctor, either you or your husband approach the doctor that Dad is taking these "miracle cure" pills. Let the doctor try to convince Dad these aren't the real thing.
His sons will not do anything.
I don't think it will be healthy for you to interject yourself into his care.

There are people you can find to help that would appreciate you and your wise counsel.

There is a lot to be said for waiting to be asked to help.
The doctor needs to know what, other than prescribed, his patient is using. Like u said is interfering with his meds..
My MIL wasvon cumidum, blood thinner. They could not get her levels right. I asked her if her Dr. knew she was on fish oil. She told me her dr. was allowing it. MIL had a problem with lying. Fish oil has vitamin E in it, a blood thinner.
If you know who your FIL's primary care provider is, send a letter to that person. The best time to send the letter is about a week before your FIL visits his PCP. Make sure you mention the date / time of your FIL's next visit. You should also cc your FIL's other doctors. If your FIL has a case manager / elder services coordinator, send that person a copy of this letter. If you can get an empty bottle, soak off the label and include it in the letter (and send copies of the label to the providers that you are sending a copy of the letter to). You will also want to do research on the product(s) your FIL is taking. Don't assume that who is treating your father is familiar with the scams he is falling for. A good place to start your research is Quackwatch ( and the Science-Based Medical Blog ( I'm concerned about some of the more popular medical information sites, because some of them have articles supportive of questionable medical practices on their sites.

I had to deal with a similar problem. I discovered that my mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment, was taking a very expensive and definitely questionable herbal supplement. It was definitely a scam. The company did not use good manufacturing processes to prevent contamination, nor did they follow proper quality control procedures. It turned out that my mother was taking this on the advise of her doctor, who saw it discussed at a poster session at a conference at the M D Anderson hospital (a top specialty hospital specializing in cancer treatment). This shows you that even doctors can get fooled by clever scammers. My mother stopped taking the scam product only when her doctor told her to stop. She absolutely refused to believe me, to logically think through the points I had made in the white paper I wrote, addressed to the doctor. If it had been up to me, I would have immediately fired the medical oncologist--even though my parents really liked her. This wasn't the first time this end-of-career doc gave bad advise. Medical oncologists should be up to date on the latest scams against cancer patients.
I agree with D. Also here is the thing with pain, its not always something a pill can help. I help people with chronic pain all of the time and there are some people who become very attached to their pain. I do a technique that is called Micro-Current Point Stimulation, or MPS integrated with massage and reflexology. It works well. If he is having knee issues I would look at the lower back first and clear any scar tissue from previous surgeries. Scar tissue can impinge nerve pathways and that is the worst kind of pain to have. Get rid of the pain and he won't have to take the pill. Unless he likes pills, then thats an entirely different issue.
Working through the doctor probably will take longer than just throwing all of these "miracle" pain pills in a grocery bag, taking them to his pharmacy, and asking for a consult.

Bring him Arnica gel for his knee. It doesn't interfere with medications. It can be found at health food store. It really does help...
Best thing, if you can sort of behind the scenes, is have the MD's office call ahead of an appt and remind the patient to bring ALL of their pills/bottles of whatever they take including supplements with them. FYI, I'm under the same roof as 100 year old dad and 95 with dementia mom. I have been accompanying them to MD appts for some time. Recently they had to switch to a new person. Lab work revealed the dirty details that came to light: Dad was regularly (unknown to me) taking Advil or similar for knee pain...daily....and who knows for how long. While kidney function may change in an older adult, his was greatly impacted by his habit to the point the MD told him to stop, and now 2 months later lab work shows some modest improvement. As for mom, a bathroom cupboard raid when she wasn't home revealed an OTC sleepaid (not harmful unless she takes more than she should) and an unmarked pill bottle filled. Lucky for us having the internet, by physical description and number I was able to find out it was acetiminophen... It's very hard to pull back and disengage when you care and can see things with perspective...
The VA gave my DH Voltaren Gel - and it really works. What it does is numb the area. Lidocaine works in a similar fashion. Heck, Votaren Gel might contain Lidocaine.

Check how he sits. He might need a pillow under one or both knees to relieve the pressure. I have had to do this to relieve the pressure on my hips - I was born without hip sockets. I can tell you, once I find the right place for the pillow, the pain subsides for me.

Does he smoke and or drink? His physician almost certainly prescribes pain medication but I recently learned that smoking & drinking interfere with the medication's being effective.
Is he overweight? The Miracle pill is to lose it to get the stress off his knee's. Ask his doctor to have a talk with him.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support