With the recent controversy in the Olympics over failed drug testing, a lot of people have different interpretations of what drugs are best to take- but are you taking the right drug for your pain and at the right time ?
Many people participating in sport take non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prophylactically before they participate in the sport, in the belief that they will help reduce the risk of injury during play. Many people also believe that these NSAIDs will also reduce the levels of muscle soreness normally experienced after training. This is not the case- they do not reduce muscle soreness or prevent injury during sport participation. Warden in 2010 stated that the prophylactic use of NSAIDs has no basis and therefore should be regarded as drug misuse.
So we would all be failing drug tests if we were tested before sport participation??!
NSAIDs are a generally cheap and easily accessible drug that most people turn to for pain relief. They are not solely a pain relieving tablet– they are for reducing anti inflammation. There are a large number of potential side effects if used in excess, such as risks of gastric trauma, gastric bleeding and cardiac complications. NSAIDs also exacerbate asthma if used in excess.
Over the counter examples of NSAIDs are Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Diclofenac.
Paracetamol is considered the front line analgesic used for a wide range of conditions including many musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain and knee arthritis, among others. People often believe that because it is easily accessible, paracetamol is quite weak and safe to use in excess. However is it very toxic at little over the recommended daily dose and so needs to be taken carefully and within daily dose levels.
Paracetamol does not have any clinically relevant action as an anti-inflammatory agent but does work as an analgesic and is an anti-pyretic drug (reduces temperature).
When a sporting injury occurs it is best to follow the PRICE protocol (protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate) within the first 24 hours and take a pain analgesic, like paracetomol, if needed in the first 24-48 hours. This allows the bodies natural inflammatory process to work, which helps a faster recovery. If there is significant swelling then a non steroidal tablet (NSAID) can be taken for the time specified on the packet.