Spring back slowly: NSAIDs are not a silver bullet for gardening pains

March 13, 2015

Spring back slowly: NSAIDs are not a silver bullet for gardening pains

EUGENE, OR — With spring in full bloom, seasonal to-do lists are filling up with the classic gardening chores; there’s bark to spread, grass to mow and flowerbeds to tend.

But if you — like your plants — were mostly dormant over the winter months, an overzealous approach to that list can leave you flat on your back.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than one quarter of American adults have experienced low back pain in the past three months, and most of these episodes are caused by twisting or lifting something improperly, such as a heavy planter.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most widely used pain relievers in the United States, and they can be very effective for treating the aches that result from jumping into those rigorous spring activities. However, it’s important to know what you’re taking and how to take it to maximize the benefits but doing so in the safest way.

“Consuming NSAIDs in greater quantities and/or for extended periods of time, in hopes of speeding up the recovery process, is an ill-advised plan,” said Byron Cryer, MD, and associate dean at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “Patients who are experiencing soreness from gardening should not avoid these medications, but use them as directed, and in concert with rest, exercise and proper lifting techniques.”

NSAIDs – which include over-the-counter (OTC) products Advil or Motrin IB (also called ibuprofen) and Aleve (also called naproxen) – work by minimizing inflammation, pain and fever.  Taken alone, they should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest period of time required for symptomatic relief. Serious side effects can occur when NSAIDs are taken at too high a dose, for too long, or in combination with another NSAID. This may affect one’s kidneys, heart and digestive system.

Additionally, it’s important to know that NSAIDs are widely available by prescription. A person who is on long-standing NSAID medication for a chronic condition, such as osteoarthritis, should speak to a doctor or pharmacist before taking an OTC NSAID.

“Patients who regularly use NSAIDs, whether OTC or Rx, should be the most vigilant about medication labels so they don’t unknowingly double up on NSAIDs,” said Cryer, who is also the chair of the Alliance for Rational Use of NSAIDs. “To avoid unwanted side effects from over usage of NSAIDs read the label or check with your healthcare professional or pharmacist.”

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ABOUT: The Alliance for Rational Use of NSAIDs is a public health coalition dedicated to the safe and appropriated use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Contact: Pat Walsh, Vox PRPA, 541-513-1236, Pat@VoxPRPA.Com

This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not replace the care of your health care provider.
Talk to your health care provider before you stop taking or change your medication.