But know your NSAIDS before you self-medicate

By Nina Beltran

Triathletes get the occasional wrong turn on the grass and hurt themselves. Accidents happen. However, more often than not, athletes get injured due to overtraining and not allowing the body to rest and repair. And sometimes they resort to over-the-counter pain killers.

Are Pain Relievers Safe?

I have had a recurring rotator cuff injury since I started swimming. Being familiar with multiple pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, I have an arsenal of quick relief shortcuts up my sleeve that I’ve used to avoid being sidelined. I think I’ve tried all the classes of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) that I could think of.

Pain killers and NSAIDS commonly used and abused by athletes are ibuprofen, mefenamic acid, celecoxib, and of course etoricoxib Arcoxia). They help reduce pain and swelling of worn-out muscles. However, doctors discourage athletes to use pain relievers before and during competition. Taking them may mask severe pain, which can lead to increased risk of injury.

As I always say, pain is your friend. Pain is a sign that there is something wrong with your body so that we know when to stop whatever is causing it. This eventually prevents it from causing further harm. Also, during competition or training, we lose a lot of water and there is always the risk of dehydration. Dehydration decreases blood flow to the kidneys. NSAIDS have a common side effect of decreasing blood flow to the kidneys, too. If you are not too careful, kidney shutdown may be imminent.

NSAIDS have a common side effect of decreasing blood flow to the kidneys, too. If you are not too careful, kidney shutdown may be imminent

Topical Options

Gels and creams that contain salicylate, capsaicin, or NSAIDS have been shown to offer slight temporary relief. I have even resorted to using geriatric remedies like Salonpas, Whiteflower, and Bengay.  The smell reminds me of my lola and makes me feel better already.

I have religiously attended six physical therapy sessions using ultrasound, hot packs, and electromyostimulation as well. They offered slight relief but never a cure. I haven’t tried acupuncture though. I will definitely do some research and experiment on that. And I’m guilty as charged for quack-doctoring myself with these quick fixes.

I know that pain medications just deal with chronic pain but cannot really mend the injury. There simply is no overnight cure for injuries. The longer we postpone the repair of muscles and body recuperation using proper rest, nutrition, and therapy, the longer it will take for the body to get back to 100 percent.