Inflammation has been a naughty word among athletes and weekend warriors for years. After all, it is the reason we feel the pain that typically interferes with our training. Patients often report to my office with the same approach to their inflammation; NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.), time off, and ice. These are normally all things that I do not recommend. What is unknown by most people is that these methods nearly eliminate the body’s ability to heal.
Our bodies are very efficient at handling the aches and pains that accompany life. When we become injured our bodies immediately begin trying to heal themselves without any manmade assistance. Our bodies deposit inflammatory attracting chemicals at the site of injury. These inflammatory chemicals help to produce new blood vessels that bring nutrients and increase the area’s permeability. This allows the injured tissue to be removed and allows healing chemicals to be deposited, leading to tissue repair.
Why would we want to stop this natural healing process? Because it hurts? Studies have demonstrated that 14 days after injury anti-inflammatory drugs actually caused tendons to become weaker. Without a proper inflammatory cycle, the tendon tissue begins to degrade leading to TENDON PAIN. Anti-inflammatories also delay muscle fiber regeneration. If muscle fibers cannot regenerate the patient will have weaker muscle contraction and an increase in the likelihood of scar tissue formation. Now, doesn’t that sound like a good way to decrease muscular output?! Another study showed that patients treated with NSAIDs after an ankle ligament sprain had less pain 14 days after injury but also had greater instability of the ankle joint. Greater ankle instability leads to an increase in the chances of rolling the ankle again. This may be the reason why people that role their ankle once, continue to roll their ankle again and again. Finally, there are currently studies being conducted that also demonstrate an adverse affect on cartilage with NSAID use which could lead to early onset osteoarthritis of our joints. Talk about a great way to become a candidate for knee replacement.
How about taking these medications before training? Distance runners taking NSAIDS before training canceled the muscular adaptations that should have occurred during their training. These people put hours of effort into performing an activity for absolutely no gain in strength or endurance. Runners competing in the Western States 100 mile race showed that there was no perceived difference between runners who took NSAIDs after the event with those that did not
All of this information against NSAID usage and we haven’t even addressed the cardiovascular, kidney, and gastro-intestinal issues. The long term effects are countless.
What should you do after injury? Compression seems to be the most promising self treatment. Actively work at trying to restore pain free range of motion as quickly as possible. Do not rest, but be smart. Do any activity that does not bother the injury to increase circulation and assist in a faster recovery. If the injury lasts more than two weeks or interferes with your training more than 3 times, seek out professional help so that you can be back to your routine as quickly as possible.
office website: www.LandChiroandSports.com
office address: 3874 San Jose Park Drive, Ste 5, Jacksonville, FL 32217
office phone number: 904-338-9995
contact e-mail: Admin@LandChiroandSports.com
DC, CCSP, CCEP, CSCS