Do anti-inflammatory medications help heal, or just mask …

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    “Help heal” is a difficult concept to address because of the nature of inflammation. The quick answer to your question is all of the above: anti-inflammatory medications help heal, prevent more damage, and also mask pain. The more complete answer warrants a review of all the different circumstances in which the body triggers inflammation.

    Inflammation occurs in the body as immune cells are recruited because some inciting event has caused damage to the body. This event can be a heart attack, an infection, even a stubbed finger. So inflammation can elicit a pain response; and in the case of a stubbed finger, an over-used joint or muscle, or a fever from an infection, the anti-inflammatory medication is simply used to mask the pain/discomfort so you can get through your day. There is a vast range of these medications. The ones you are probably most used to are NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as the over-the-counter ibuprofen. These anti-inflammatory medications are used by many to treat your pain, and in this case, the symptom is treated rather than the direct cause.

    But if you look at the inflammatory profile of a heart attack or nerve injury, inflammation becomes so much more than just your body’s way of telling you where it hurts. Inflammation itself is due to a complex dance between your immune cells and the chemical cytokines they produce to cause changes in the tissue environment. And while these changes and cells are present for the best of intentions, they can cause damage. Anti-inflammatory medications in this case can help reduce the damage that the damaged tissue experiences from prolonged exposure to your body’s inflammatory response.

    There are many types of anti-inflammatory medications, and the two conditions described above describe uses for NSAIDs. Steroids are also an effective way to decrease inflammation, but this is the inflammation due to an over-active immune system. And it is this overactivity that causes the complement of diseases called auto-immune diseases. The famously elusive lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus SLE) is one such disease that is the result of an overzealous immune system. In this case, steroids are used to produce a much more generalized and drastic suppression of the immune system, and in this instance, helps heal.

    There are many instances in which anti-inflammatory agents are used that aren’t discussed here (organ transplants, prevention against blood clots). In each of these cases, the medical indications for anti-inflammatory use is slightly different and takes advantage of the wide variety of biological pathways that can be affected.

    I used to think they just masked pain, but I recently had an experience that leads me to believe that inflammation can actually be counter productive to healing.

    For about 18 months I have suffered from lower back pain from poor posture while sitting, and a frozen shoulder from sleeping on one side to much. I am not a fan of doctors or medication and I was attempting to treat it myself with natural remedies and yoga. Overall the pain would be worse some days and better some, but was a daily issue for that whole time.

    I had tried physical therapy and chiropractors, but I didn’t want to deal with going every week like they wanted, so I just tried to treat it at home. I have had a frozen shoulder on the opposite side before and it went away by changing sleeping position and lifting weights to strengthen the shoulder so I just thought I could treat the other shoulder the same way.

    One day I was watching TV and a commercial for Aleve came on and people were talking about taking it to fight inflammation, so I thought why not try it?

    I got a bottle of the grocery store brand naproxen sodium, which is the same as the brand name drug. It was a the twelve hour dosage. I started taking it once a day 2 or 3 times a week.

    It’s been a couple months since I started and over that time both the shoulder pain and the back pain have become almost non existent. I still have flair ups if I don’t watch my posture or do stretches, but I just take the naproxen a few days when that happens.

    I am still doing my yoga stretches and taking a natural anti-inflammatory like turmeric, but clearly the anti-inflammatory effects of the naproxen have made a huge difference in allowing my body to heal its self.

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    Different types of injuries are helped more than others, specifically those where inflammation is a hindrance to good blood flow to the injury site.

    Bone fractures have the potential to actually be made worse if NSAID’s are taken for more than a week. Ligaments/Tendons in general don’t come with a lot of inflammation so don’t benefit greatly with NSAID’s. Muscle/Soft tissue injuries will respond the best.

    As for masking pain, isn’t that half the point? 🙂 Yes, they mask pain as analgesia is one of their functions. The reduction in inflammation and pain relief can allow you to perform light exercise which is indicated for improved healing times in some cases, but knowing what type of exercise and how much is tricky and best left to a doctor. The right amount will speed you along, the wrong amount will slow you down.

    In general, unless inflammation is an issue (blood flow, inability to cast a bone fracture, etc) I would recommend acetaminophen or acetaminophen + codeine to deal with the pain as they have far fewer side effects. Just avoid alcohol when taking acetaminophen as it has a very nasty risk profile when combined.

    Do anti-inflammatory medications help heal, or just mask pain?

    This question was just posted, but it has answers years old. Look at them.

    Anti-inflammatory medications are not simply pain pills. Much of menstrual pain is due to prostaglandins causing muscle cramps. Blocking the prostaglandins with an NSAID stops the cramps, so the pain never occurs and does not need masking. As mentioned in other answers, inflammation is not always a failure of the body; it is needed for healing. One must balance the good and the bad. If I get a case of gout or sciatica, I will seek steroids to block the painful inflammation that is not promoting healing. The prednisone will be much better tolerated than a narcotic or colchicine.

    Inflammation and pain is there so you WILL heal. It is nature’s way of making you rest so you will heal. If something is wrong and you mask the pain, you will continue to injure yourself and not know it until major damage occurs.

    Pain is good. It tells us something is wrong. To mask it is like covering your ears and eyes as your house burns around you.

    You don’t “have” to run in three weeks. You have to take time to heal so that you can walk in thirty years.

    The purpose for running barefoot is to run with proper form. Shoes and products such as the Vibram Five-Fingers don’t give you that because they are still offering “protection” from the surface. They are “masking” the pain of the surface and still allow you to land on your heel.

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    It only mask our pains.

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    Anti-inflammatory drugs are some of the most used in the world. … The theory is that if we reduce the inflammation, it’ll speed healing. The problem with that theory is that the inflammatory response is one of the body’s natural responses to actually increase healing. Another study confirmed in the laboratory that the use of NSAIDs after exercise slowed the healing of muscles, tissues, ligaments and bones. The research is clear. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and ibuprofen after a workout will result in slower recovery times. Go to my Profile and you can find all about Cholesterol material there…

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