Updated 12/31/2012 12:16 PM
Healthy Living: Athletes and ibuprofen
Even though a number of endurance athletes might take ibuprofen or other over the counter pain killers to reduce the effects of long or hard workout, a number of studies are suggesting that might be doing more harm than good. Katie Gibas reports.
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Donna Chillemi just started running this year.
"I have arthritis in my knees, my back and my neck. And I had avoided it for about 10 years and then this spring, I decided to try it again and after a few times out, I realized it didn't hurt any more to run than to not run," said Donna Chillemi, a Liverpool Resident.
But sometimes the arthritis does act up, particularly in her knees. She'll take an ibuprofen once or twice a week to manage the pain. But some endurance athletes are taking ibuprofen on a regular basis.
"People might anticipate the sensations that they feel from a hard workout and they premedicate themselves with something like ibuprofen or Advil or any other non-steroid anti-inflammatory," said Stephanie Michaels, a YMCA Health and Wellness Coordinator.
Even though a number of endurance athletes might take ibuprofen or other over the counter pain killers to reduce the effects of long or hard workout, a number of studies are suggesting that might be doing more harm than good.
"Studies are showing that athletes who have taken regular ibuprofen during their exercise actually cause some minor damage to the lining of the stomach and intestines greater than we previously appreciated. Enough for me to be concerned. I certainly don't think patients should be taking any sort of medicine without a specific reason. I don't think you should be taking ibuprofen or any medicine simply to prevent problems that might occur," said Dr. Todd Battaglia, an orthopedic surgeon.
At this point, doctors aren't sure what the long-term damage is. Plus there are other concerns associated with frequent use of anti-inflammatories.
"People with chronic use injuries like tendon issues, muscle issues, if they take ibuprofen or an anti-inflammatory on a regular basis, they don't heal from that issue as fast as if they didn't take it," said Michaels.
Health experts say only take ibuprofen according to the directions and only for a short time. They also recommend looking for other alternatives, like increased stretching or massage.
As for Donna Chillemi, she says if her infrequent use of ibuprofen allows her to run for the long haul, it's a risk she's willing to take.