Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Aleve Generation

My body hurts...or at least used to before I started taking Aleve (Naproxin) twice a day at the suggestion of an orthopedic surgeon. Reason: I played football in high school, then switched to ski racing in college, and continued racing until I was 25, when I broke my back.  (And as they say in ski racing, “no one is ever fast again after a major injury...and its more psychological than physical”.) 

Leading up to my career ending back snap, I had an assortment of other injuries that included a broken thumb, pelvis, collarbone and shoulder, torn cartilage in knee and shoulder, major contusions all over and a couple of concussions. (which my wife says explains everything). While this may sound like a macho extreme, its pretty much the norm for these two sports and if you have a passion for a sport, you sort of deal with it....until you can’t.

By the time I was 30, my back, knee and shoulders hurt so much all the time I was just in a depressing perpetual state of misery...albeit one that I sort of got used to.  To get better,  I did the whole chiropractor thing, took Yoga, and tried all kinds of contraptions (including one where I hung upside down like a bat twice a day) all to no avail.  Then one day someone turned me on to Ibuprofen, and then Aleve and miracle upon miracle, I was (mostly) pain free.  Even better, these NSAIDs are non-narcotic (no buzz, no fuzz) and they really, really work. But wait!  There’s more!

Now we have a literal “Aleve Generation” comprised of creaky older folks pretending through the miracle of modern medicine that they are 20 years younger, and doing so without the use of narcotics.  I can’t imagine doing half the things for recreation that I do now without my beloved little blue pill. (Aleve’s MO)  An neither can the rest of the Aleve Gen.  In fact many young athletes use the drug as a pain “prophylactic” that supposedly increases their performance by masking the natural occurring discomfort associated with too much of anything.  Well, recent research says this is the WRONG thing to do.

Researchers have found that, in laboratory experiments on animal tissues, NSAIDs actually slowed the healing of injured muscles, tendons, ligament, and bones. According to the research “NSAIDs work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins,”substances that are involved in pain and also in the creation of collagen.. Collagen is the building block of most tissues. So fewer prostaglandins mean less collagen, “which inhibits the healing of tissue and bone injuries including the micro-tears and other trauma to muscles and tissues that can occur after any strenuous workout or race”

The painkillers also blunt the body’s response to exercise at a deeper level. Normally, the stresses of exercise activate a particular molecular pathway that increases collagen, and leads, eventually, to creating denser bones and stronger tissues, so if you’re taking ibuprofen before every workout, you lessen this training response,.  Your bones don’t thicken and your tissues don’t strengthen as they should. They may be less able to withstand the next workout. In essence, the pills athletes take to reduce the chances that they’ll feel sore may increase the odds that they’ll wind up injured — and sore.

In short there is no indication or rationale for the current prophylactic use of NSAIDs by athletes, and such ritual use represents misuse.” what is a decrepit 50 year adrenaline junky to do?  I have always felt like there will be hell to pay for all these pharmaceuticals we take these a way the question is whether you enjoy your life more today and maybe die a few years younger, or endure daily pain during a very long life.  

Not sure where I stand on that but Aleve and I are going surfing together this weekend to think about it.

1 comment:

downbytheriver said...

Amazing how every-last-thing in life is a paradox; that double-edged sword that just keeps cutting both ways. Just when you think you've got a "fix" for what ails you; you find you may well be better off without it.

For as much enjoyment as the adrenalin junky receives he must ultimately pay in some way else Life this would not be.

WTH?'d think I was attempting some form of slacker's haiku back there.

My "Aleve" is a fine Trappist Ale, else the occasional bottle of Far Niente Cab amongst "good company"...with truly talented musicians playing through some old Polk LSI 9's juiced by an even older "Mac" Tube Amp.

Next thing 'ya know "they'll" be saying The Good Life (Far Niente's rough translation), great music and fine (however outdated) stereo equipment actually causes listlessness, atrophy, apathy and even DEATH.