For Your Inflammation: Perhaps Ibuprofen may not be as good as you think
by Harlan Sparer, DC
Ibuprofen is one of the most popular over the counter non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). People take it for everything from headaches to sprains and fractures. Careful study of its effects reveals that while it may work as a pain killer, one side effect among many others is the retardation of the healing process.
As a DC, I encounter hip replacement patients on occasion. I discovered through conversation with these patients that it is a standard of practice to prohibit the use of Ibuprofen specifically before and after the surgery. I began to wonder why and began to revisit the inflammatory/healing process.
There is a triggering event that begins the process, usually either sudden trauma, degenerative processes, or repetitive movement trauma. The event causes cell damage, and the cell membranes lose their integrity, spilling the cell matter into the area between the cells. These proteins cause the production of proteins called bradykinins, which attract fluid and cause the production of other proteins which signal for repair of the area. NSAIDs interfere with this process, thus reducing inflammation. The NSAIDs also hinder the healing process. There is a signal for cells to migrate to the wound area to lay down scar tissue and then begin cell repair. When this signal is hampered or suppressed, there may be an inadequate or lack of cell response to the signal to lay down repairing cell matrix. This effect is heightened when there is poor circulation or Diabetes present.
Side effects include: Constipation; diarrhea; dizziness; gas; headache; heartburn; nausea; stomach pain or upset, severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; trouble breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloody or black, tarry stools; change in the amount of urine produced; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; depression; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; mental or mood changes; numbness of an arm or leg; one-sided weakness; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizures; severe headache or dizziness; severe or persistent stomach pain or nausea; severe vomiting; shortness of breath; stiff neck; sudden or unexplained weight gain; swelling of hands, legs, or feet; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual joint or muscle pain; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision or speech changes; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; yellowing of the skin or eyes.
There are many analgesics and anti-inflammatory substances available, despite the significantly smaller amount of funds available to market them. Some have side effects, others do not. None of the others directly biochemically interfere with the healing process.
Many people utilize and overuse analgesics and NSAIDs when they really need to treat a problem. Generally speaking, it is ill advised to mask pain and avoid treatment, as the treatment necessary becomes more complex the longer treatment is postponed. Sometimes analgesics and NSAIDs are prescribed by allopathic physicians who have issues with alternative treatment modalities such as Chiropractic.
Sadly, many health care providers over-focus on the effects without using their diagnostic aptitude to determine the cause. This is usually because it requires time spent on observation and conversation that insurance companies aren’t willing to cover.
When you have inflammation, it is always the wisest to treat the cause rather than the symptom. Often, the symptom resolves once the cause is treated. Our health care system unfortunately is mostly symptom oriented rather than cause oriented. Therein lays the core problem.
“Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.” Ralph Waldo Emerson