Magazine article USA TODAY

Overuse of NSAIDs Harms Athletes

Magazine article USA TODAY

Overuse of NSAIDs Harms Athletes

Article excerpt

Athletes' superstitions and rituals can help them get psyched up for contests, but when this involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which many athletes gobble down before and during events, they could be causing more harm than good. "These agents are treatments for the symptoms of an injury, not the injury itself," stresses Stuart Warden, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis.

"They may allow an athlete to exercise or train at a certain level, but pain occurs for a reason. It is basically the body's mechanism of saying: Hang on, you've got some sort of injury that should not be ignored."

NSAIDs are recommended for use after an injury to reduce swelling or pain. However, studies have found that many elite athletes take these over-the-counter drugs--and often several different kinds--before contests and challenging workouts because they think they will reduce anticipated inflammation and soreness that could occur after the event.

Warden maintains there is no scientific evidence for this prophylactic use of NSAIDs, but such misuse can cause a range of complications, from interfering with healing and inhibiting the body's ability to adapt to challenging workouts, to the development of stomach ulcers and possibly an increased risk for cardiovascular difficulties. …

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