When it comes to pain and injuries in sports, pharmacology and injectable therapies have long been used. Over the years, they have helped athletes stay in their sport. But with every drug comes with a price…
When it comes to treating pain and injuries, there comes a variety of drugs including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cortisone injections.
NSAIDs are medications widely used to address a range of conditions. They are used for relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and bringing down a fever. Among those that are widely used are aspirin and ibuprofen.
Prostaglandins are a family of chemicals produced by the cells of the body. They have several important roles such as promoting inflammation that is necessary for healing, but also resulting in pain and fever, supporting the blood clotting function of platelets, and protecting the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid. Prostaglandins are produced by the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX). NSAIDs block COX and reduce prostaglandins in the body and therefore reducing inflammation.
Evidence showing the lack of benefit and potential detrimental effect of NSAIDs in acute injury and bone injury suggests that they should be avoided. Inflammation, which takes place when a person gets injured, serves a very important purpose. Various inflammatory mediators cause blood vessels to dilate and increase permeability. This allows more blood to arrive, bringing white blood cells to “clean up” the injured site.
Fluid build-up, swelling or edema at the site should be seen as a positive reaction because it increases your sensitivity to pain, restricts movement, and progresses inflammation. This means they help us prevent further injuring the tissue and allowing it to heal. It makes sense that anti-inflammatory drugs mess up with the healing process.
In a study involving professional rugby league players, data suggests that some pain-killing injections may be less safe than others. With 5-year follow-up, lower satisfaction and higher complications came from wrist, ankle, sternum and some rib injections.
Cortisone Injections –No Role in Acute Injuries
Cortisone has been widely known to be a powerful treatment for pain and inflammation in a specific area of the body. Most commonly, they are administered into joints, such as ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine, and wrist. Even the small joints such as in hands and feet may benefit from cortisone injections.
The problem with athletes is that they look for quick relief. Although cortisone can provide fast results, it may be at the cost of permanent inability to participate in sports. Athletes are often given cortisone shots to be able to play. They tend to play in the field with injury that they receive cortisone shot to relieve the pain. As a result, they can no longer feel the pain so they play as if they are not injured. The downside of this is that the injury may not be properly healed because of the anti-healing properties of cortisone. The playing athlete will only experience more injury without knowing it.
Whilst NSAIDS and cortisone are popularly used for pain and injury, it is important to be aware of the price we have to pay for regularly using them. Perhaps what’s more important is to avoid injury altogether to minimise the usage of these conventional treatments. Physiotherapists extremely do a great job in this role. They know every biomechanics in your body and prescribe effective exercises that will help you become less prone to pain and injury.
If you need physiotherapy assistance, call us today at 9444 8729!