Are You a Drug Addict?

pillsMany senior tennis players routinely pop a couple of Advil/Aleve in their mouths each time they take to the court. I use to do the same in order to prevent the usual minor pain associated with a tough workout. But I stopped.


When I had my bad shoulder (due to using Luxilon Big Banger strings), I confess to taking what I believe is the maximum allowable dosage of Advil: four pills four times a day!

After I had cortisone shot in my shoulder to take away the pain (and it has not returned, since I also switched strings), I went back to my usual two pills before playing each time.

But then I just stopped. And guess what? I felt no more pain than when I was taking the pills.

Now, new studies are showing some inherent dangers in regularly taking any NSAIDs…

Advil, Aleve Raise Heart Attack Risk: FDA Warns

(July 10, 2015) The U.S Food and Drug Administration on Thursday strengthened the warning labels for widely used painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen, saying they can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The FDA is asking people to think carefully about their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), particularly if they’ve already had a heart attack, according to a consumer update on the agency’s website.

The agency said it is taking this action based on recent data that shows the risk of heart attack or stroke can increase even after using NSAIDs for a short time.

“They used to say they might cause risk of heart attack or stroke. Now we are saying they do cause increased risk of heart attack and stroke,” FDA spokesman Eric Pahon told NBC News.

In particular, people should avoid taking multiple products that contain NSAIDs, according to the revised FDA warning.

Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), but NSAIDs also can show up in combination medicines like multi-symptom cold products.

“Be careful not to take more than one product that contains an NSAID at a time,” Dr. Karen Mahoney, deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, said in the agency’s announcement.

People with heart disease or high blood pressure should consult a doctor before using an NSAID, the FDA said.

However, the agency noted that the cardiovascular risk also is present in people without heart health problems.

“Everyone may be at risk — even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Judy Racoosin, deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction Products.

Current labeling on over-the-counter NSAIDs warns patients to take the lowest dose possible for the least amount of time possible, and to not use them to treat pain for longer than 10 days.

Are you popping pills?

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8 thoughts on “Are You a Drug Addict?

  1. Thanks for an excellent review of the potential problems with NSAIDS. It is a problem to which I have alluded in previous comments. Although this group of medications are quite effective in alleviating pain and inflammation, their side effects can be fatal.

    Doc – thanks for all your good advice! george

  2. Not only can there be heart conditions caused by NSAIDS, but I got a bad stomach condition from my constant use of Aleve.

  3. Good morning,
    I used to take 4 advils before I played. If I didn’t I was stiff sore and could barely move. I went to a yoga instructor and she gave me different stretches to do each morning for about 25 minutes. After about 3 months I totally stopped needing the advil.

    I hear so much about stretching before, after, during. I have friends that just walk on the court and start beating the ball and others that have different routines they go thru before they play. I think you need to pay attention, try different things and figure out what works best for you. Finding a routine that gets one off drugs is a good start. 🙂
    Randy Beerman

    Randy, i began stretching several years ago and have had very positive results and much more flexibility (and fewer injuries). george

  4. Most stiffness is due to microscopic tears in the fibers that make up our muscles and tendons that inevitably occur when we exert and are called strains or if severe sprains or tears. You can easily tell this kind of injury by the symptoms. When you sit or lay in one position for an extended period the involved muscle will stiffen up and when you start to move you feel a stabbing pain. The pain will ease quickly to a troubling pinch or in some cases go away. In my opinion taking antiinflammatory medicines for these is counterproductive since the inflammation similar to inflammation weight lifters induce on purpose causes the muscle or tendon to get stronger an effect that is lessened if antiinflammatories are used. In my opinion the best way to avoid having troubling sprains and strains is regular resistance training. Ive used the program in Doug McGruff MD’s book “Body by Science” for 14 months and no lost tennis to Injury. I’m on the court 20-25 hours a week and play a lot of tourneys. YTD #10 in the men’s 65s in Texas. Good luck, hoping to make the Florida Grand Prix next year.

    Paul – thanks! look forward to seeing you in Florida in January! george

  5. I find it difficult to believe that Big Banger could injure your shoulder. Have you considered checking your stroke production on a new fangled biomechanics analyzer?

    Kim – there is absolutely no question … it was the strings! george

  6. I echo Randy and George’s comments. I started a comprehensive stretching program 14 months ago, and I no longer use Advil routinely before playing….sometimes afterwards.
    I’ve had no injuries (knock on wood), am more flexible but also stronger since the start of stretching.

    John – your last injury was Longboat Key last year (vs me!!) thanks, george

  7. In the professional baseball world, NSAIDS were like M&M to many of my players. It was something that really bothered me and I attempted to educate both players, coaches, and administrators on their risks and non-benefit. The research does not support that when taken preventively gives any special benefit except as a mild pain reliever, which can also be accomplish with low dose tylenol. The biggest risk occurs when taking NSAIDs over long periods of time, even in low dosage. Also, low dosage accomplishing very little if anything except GI problems. The advice we always gave was to take maximum OTC for 3 days, reduce it for another 3 days and then down to 1 a day the last three days. If there is good effect or no effect, then stop use after that.
    The bottom-line is the body is very good at combating inflammation as long as we do not abuse it and are prepared for the activity that we love to do – playing tennis. Taking pills is not the answer.

    Larry Starr
    Cincinnati Reds, 1972-1992
    Florida Marlins, 1993-2001

    Larry – great advice! thanks and see you in October! george

  8. Thanks for the info George, since I have had a heart attack I will reconsider my use of ibuprofen. I will look into the stretching and I know my way around a weight room from playing ball.


    Ron – Live well. Play well. george

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