T Nation

Anti-Inflammatories Help with Healing?


Quick question:

Do ant-inflammatories help with the healing process? Or does it just help with the pain and swelling?

Im asking as I have irritated my lower back, and while anti-inflammatories do give me pain relief I kind of feel I don’t need them, unless there is some benefit to increase the healing rate of whatever injury I have.



Like the name implies, they speed up recovery if there’s inflammation in the area. I have found that my joint issues go away a lot faster when using them for a short while but I seriously doubt they’d help with regular recovery.


@Furius: do you know of any scientific research on this or is this from your own experience?

Im a little dubious of taking meds for injuries that are recurrent. I fear that by masking the pain, I am lying to myself about my recovery status and then go ahead and do further damage.



Just my own experience. The pharmacist I usually go to recommended eating both ibuprofen and paracetamol in small doses for a week when I experience joint pain and it has worked for me every time. I think it’s worth mentioning that I live in Finland where both of these are regular over the counter meds and the pharmacies have absolutely zero interest in recommending any drug use for nothing because they risk losing their license.

In your case, it simply seems to be DOMS so I personally wouldn’t take anything for that.


What damage have you sustained? Anything structural?

Edit: nvm, I just saw your MRI thread.


Ah, you’re the guy with the MRI thread. Sorry, I didn’t notice.

In your case, as you are still training, do not mask the pain. If it is a spinal disc herniation, you will have to re-think your training. I’ve just gotten down what I can and can not do with my disc herniation and I only take any kind of painkillers before I go to work.


I think people often forget that inflammation isn’t (usually) the evil at hand, but rather the body’s response in fighting whatever it may be.

Research is still somewhat still up in the air but most signs point to the fact that NSAIDs will either delay healing, or perhaps even reduce healing musculoskeletal injuries.

For instance a study in 2013 found that NSAIDs impaired bone fracture healing and tendon to bone healing, while suggesting that they may benefit tendon specific healing. However they did suggest that there are exceptions to the tendon healing findings and that the larger clinical picture of a patient should be considered. (http://jap.physiology.org/content/115/6/892.long)

A 2009 report found that NSAIDs (in regards to tendon healing) are logically a double edged sword. NSAIDs work by inhibiting an enzyme that synthesizes inflammatory mediators. They may benefit tendon repair by influencing how the tissue remodels. However, the mediators NSAIDs act upon are vital to the early tendon healing response as they control blood flow to the area, and normal tissue remodeling may be impaired.

I could go on but basically what I’m getting at is (and as most science goes); it depends on a lot of factors you would have to look at a patient specific level. You have to ask is it acute? Is it chronic? What exactly is the underlying cause of the inflammation? Is that treatable?

They are symptom specific treatments. Is it going to hurt to use them for some relief for a minor injury? Probably not. Would you be better off without using them in that scenario? It seems that way. Could people use them to mask issues they should probably seek help for? Certainly.

The actual problem needs to be identified and treatment needs to be tailored. In most cases the body is doing its own thing and with good cause, short of autoimmunity and cytokine storms.


On a related note, you might be interested in this:


It ‘‘dries out’’ the inflammation temporarily but it comes back later and the joint is still jello. Not very useful in a weightlifting context in my experience.


On the other hand untreated acute pain can lead to chronic pain through central sensitization.