Anti inflammatory tablets – a caution by Dr David Walker

A number of walkers in previous years have taken over the counter or prescribed anti inflammatory tablets before, during or after the Parish Walk in order to try and reduce muscle pain during the event and also aid recovery after the walk.

Anti inflammatory tablets come in a number of types the more common ones include Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Aspirin and Diclofenac (Voltarol).

Anti inflammatory tablets work by preventing the production of prostaglandins which act as messengers in inflammation. However, prostaglandins also have a protective effect on the stomach lining and kidneys and anti inflammatory medications reduce this protective effect and may cause side effect which can include gastrointestinal bleeding and acute kidney damage.

These side effects are particularly important when combined with dehydration which is a common problem during endurance events and there have been incidents in the past of kidney failure requiring hospital admission after the Parish Walk.

In addition, studies have found little actual performance benefit of taking ibuprofen and warn that it may mask pain, which can lead to increased risk of injury. Further studies have cautioned that anti inflammatory drugs used during ultra distance exercise are associated with an increased risk of altered kidney function which is exacerbated by dehydration.

Dr David Walker