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Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Training

I’ve been taking anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for about a decade for my inflammatory arthritis. I’m currently taking Vioxx, one of the new super-cool COX-2 specific inhibitors, and it’s made a big difference in my life, to the point where I have been able to start on a workout program.

What effects do NSAIDs have on recovery? Do they help? Or are they doing something ‘bad’ by masking possible pain and swelling?

Also, what potential interactions should I be on the lookout for, and why? My family doc isn’t too aware of supplements. But here on t-mag at http://www.t-mag.com/html/48fb.html one Dr. Serrano says to avoid taking creatine while taking anti-inflammatory medications. Why? And does it apply to the new COX-2 specific anti-inflammatories Vioxx and Celebrex?

Hey I have inflammatory arthritis as well. I guess you could say mine is minor in comparison to what most people with it have to go through but for an athlete any type of inflammation that isn’t caused by training really bites. I know Dr. Serrano recommends not to take creatine with NSAID’s because of the possible stress on the kidneys. I believe this goes for the Cox2 drugs as well. Personally I don’t take any nsaids anymore although I’ve tried both Vioxx and Celebrex. I did some experimenting with them and found they always made me lose muscle weight although a negligible amount. If taking them allows you to train without pain whereas without them you’d be unable to I’d say keep taking them. Just about every NFL or NBA player takes loads of NSAID’s. You might also experiment with fish oil along with flaxseed oil. Get a total of 6-10 grams per day of combined DHA/EPA and you might find you can backoff on your NSAID use. I have “heard” from some others with inflammatory arthritis that this amount of fish oil approximates the pain relieving effects of approximately one dose of vioxx or celebrex which really is quite significant. Also remember that exercise alone will tend to help alleviate the pain of inflammatory arthritis. Best of luck with your training!

Thanks for the info, Kelly! I’m already supplementing with flax oil, MSM and glucosamin+chondriton sulphate, and lots of calcium. Each time I introduced one of the supplements to my diet I experienced an incremental improvement in my arthritis. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll have the courage to go off Vioxx and test the waters completely prescription-drug free for the first time in many years. My rheumatologist had wanted to put me back on disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs a couple of months ago and I said “just let me have one more try at this myself”. Since then I’ve gained 20lbs of lean muscle and 5 lbs of fat, and I’m almost walking normally again. Thanks again for your message.

Both ibuprofen and acetaminophen have been shown to decrease protein synthesis and PGF2(which increases protein synthesis) after resistance exercise. In contrast, COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex of Vioxx should not decrease protein synthesis because they have little effect on PGF2 production. Doug Kalman mentioned that he was going to try to get a study done of the effects of Vioxx on protein synthesis.

I cannot remember the source, but I have read somewhere that prolonged usage of NSAIDS can be toxic to your liver.

Also I’d like to warn you that when you stop taking your NSAID you will likely experience a period of having to let your body start to produce it’s own painkillers again. I know everytime I’ve ever taken any type of NSAID when I stop taking them I usually hurt worse than I did prior. You might find the addition of resistance training with higher dose fish oils and EFA’s along with an emphasis on a really clean diet might enable you to get off NSAID’s completely.