How do you treat the pain?
One possible answer is that you might toss back some NSAIDs like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Unfortunately we are now finding out that NSAIDs might not be the best choice when it comes to dementia or muscle growth.
This post might change your mind about popping aspirin after a particularly grueling workout.
What’s an NSAID?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, usually abbreviated to NSAIDs or NAIDs, are drugs with analgesic, antipyretic (lowering an elevated body temperature and relieving pain without impairing consciousness) and, in higher doses, with anti-inflammatory effects (reducing inflammation).
The term “non-steroidal” is used to distinguish these drugs from steroids, which (among a broad range of other effects) have a similar eicosanoid-depressing, anti-inflammatory action. As analgesics, NSAIDs are unusual in that they are non-narcotic.
NSAIDs are sometimes also referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents/analgesics (NSAIAs) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIMs).
The most prominent members of this group of drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen partly because they are available over-the-counter in many areas.
Now the question becomes:
Are NSAIDs good for us?
Ultimately the answer is a resounding NO!
Two Reasons NSAIDs Are Bad For Us
- In a recent study in this week’s issue of Neurology, regular NSAID users reportedly have an elevated risk of developing dementia. Now, if you don’t know what dementia is, allow me to explain.
Dementia is a progressive decline in brain function from disease or damage to the body well beyond what is expected from aging. This affliction affects memory, attention, language, and problem solving, with higher mental function suffering first in the process. In the later stages of dementia people may become disoriented in place and in person.
You don’t want to develop dementia.
Researchers followed 2,736 members of Group Health who were an average age of 75 at the study’s start. Participants were tracked for 12 years to see if they developed dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Participants’ pharmacy records were evaluated for use of prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, and they were questioned about their NSAID use as well.
Results showed 351 people had a history of heavy NSAID use at the study’s start, while 107 people became heavy users during the follow-up period. Heavy users took at least one NSAID a day for at least 16 months of a two-year period.
During the study, 476 people developed dementia, and heavy NSAID users had a 66% higher risk of developing the condition than those with low or no use.
Researchers say they were surprised at the results because inflammation is thought to play a role in dementia, and because other studies suggested that anti-inflammatory pills lowered the risk of dementia.
Some experts say this may have occurred because previous studies were based around younger, healthier, better educated subjects. This would, of course, bias the results.
- I also happen to know that NSAIDs have a negative effect on protein synthesis. Protein synthesis being the primary function that heals and strengthens muscles tissue after exercise.
The effects on muscle protein synthesis and soreness after high-intensity eccentric resistance exercise were examined for two commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Twenty four males were assigned to one of the following three groups:
- those who received the maximal OTC dose of ibuprofen (1,200 mg/day)
- those who received the maximal OTC does of acetaminophen (4,000 mg/day)
- those who received a placebo
They received the medicine after 10-14 sets of 10 eccentric repetitions at 120% of concentric one-repetition maximum with the knee extensors.
After 24 hours, post exercise skeletal muscle fractional synthesis rate (FSR) was increased in the placebo group, and was unchanged in the ibuprofen and acetaminophen groups.
Neither substance had any effect on whole body protein breakdown, as measured by rate of phenylalanine appearance, on serum creatine kinase, or on rating of perceived muscle soreness compared with placebo group.
The results suggest that OTC doses of both ibuprofen and acetaminophen suppress the protein synthesis response in skeletal muscle after eccentric resistance exercise. We can therefore conclude that these two NSAIDS may work through a common mechanism to hamper protein metabolism in skeletal muscle.
Ultimately you do not want to use NSAIDs to combat delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However if you have inflammation as a result of injury or overuse, you may consider using NSAIDs anyway, as they will reduce the inflammation thereby facilitating recovery. In this case we favor healing over muscle gains.
So I guess the verdict is still out on whether NSAIDs have any effect on dementia, but we know for a fact that they inhibit protein synthesis.
Incidentally, fish oil supplements have a great anti-inflammatory effect. I often throw back 4 recoup|90 fish oil capsules after my workouts.