NSAIDs Can Help Decrease Inflammation and Pain but Impact Muscle Gains

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) including ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, celecoxib and indomethacin can decrease pain. Take them for the shortest possible time as they can be harmful.

Should you use NSAIDs? If you must get back to work ASAP then consider the risks vs. benefits. Talk to your pharmacist and physician (MD).

NSAIDs can help decrease inflammation and pain

NSAIDs can Help Decrease Pain from:

  • Acute ligament sprain – use for < 5 days. NSAIDs reduce pain and swelling so you can return to activity faster.
  • Osteoarthritis (cartilage wear and tear)
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness. When taken for several days before muscle damaging exercise, NSAIDs may reduce soreness. Take with caution as they can wreck your strength gains (see below).
  • Muscle bruise (contusion). Short term use can decrease inflammation with no adverse effects on healing.
  • Tendonitis – reduces inflammation and helps recovery. NSAIDs may do more harm than good for chronic tendon issues.

How NSAIDs Impact your Strength Gains

  • Short-term low dose (400 mg ibuprofen) use may have no real impact on muscle strength or size.
  • Longer term, higher doses (1,200 mg ibuprofen) may compromise muscle growth and, when training was preformed with all-out max reps, strength gains were also compromised.
  • The elderly may benefit due to a decrease in inflammation from taking NSAIDs. Chronic inflammation, which is not uncommon in the elderly, impairs strength gains. NSAIDs help tame inflammation.
  • After muscle injuries, NSAIDs can help reduce strength loss, soreness and muscle markers of inflammation, particularly when lower body muscles are injured.

Why do NSAIDs Impact Training (Strength) Gains?

NSAIDs work by blocking COX enzymes. COX enzymes alter prostaglandin synthesis, mediators of inflammation and pain. Prostaglandins have other actions in the body including regulation of muscle protein metabolism. Decreases in the prostaglandin PGFare associated with decreased protein synthesis and reduced muscle fiber size. In one study, 1200 mg ibuprofen blocked protein synthesis after resistance training. Other studies show signaling responses in muscle are decreased for hours or days after resistance training when NSAIDs are used.

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Get Rid of Muscle Knots and Tendonitis with Dry Needling

I’ve spent my fair share of time at PT offices, in training rooms during my college years and at various orthopedic offices. And there’s one common thread I’ve noticed through the years – many practitioners want to put a Band-Aid on the issue and send you out the door. Foot pain? We’ll just assume it is plantar facititis, give you some exercises and send you out the door. Oh, and stay off your feet so you can get better. If you’re competing, we’ll just shoot you up with cortizone to mask the pain, tape the area and send you on your way.

Frustrated, but with no other real options, I went with the Band-Aid approach. So I’ve intermittently given up running countless times while faithfully doing PT exercises only to end up with knee pain, plantar facititis for the millionth time or something else.

But, through a twist of pure luck (thanks to CBS Better Mornings Atlanta), I found a PT practice that operates differently. One that spends time going through the biomechanical issues that actually cause the problem in the first place and then uses a systematic approach to treating areas that are tight, muscles that aren’t firing and more. And, they also incorporate a technique called dry needling. A technique that alone has made an immediate difference!

With dry needling, small needles are placed within within those muscle knots that are so tender. The needles hit the specific area within muscle tissue that is locked, causes it to twitch, cramp and release. For 2 seconds of pain you get amazing results! Sure, deep tissue massage feels great and it works but in my experience, dry needling is an instant relief – especially if you have painful tendonitis – you’ll feel better right away.

So what’s my take home message here? There are practices out there that take the time you need to thoroughly evaluate and then treat the actual cause of your joint and muscle pain. You may pay more, or pay out of pocket but, in the long run you’ll pay a lot less if you fix the problem on the first try instead of paying a bunch of copays and money on ineffective treatment modalities (remember, spending $20 to “try something” that has no validity, is likely a waste of $20).

In Atlanta, GA or the surrounding areas, my choice is One Therapy.
In Bethesda, MD or surrounding areas, go with Bethesda Physiocare.

Disclosure: because my treatment philosophies line up with One Therapy’s, I have aligned my business with theirs but, I’m also a patient. And, for the first time, my biomechanical issues (poor running gait, muscles not firing when they need to so I’m overcompensating with other muscles and overloading my knees) are being addressed.