After someone rolls their ankle it's common practice for them to reach for the Advil (NSAIDs/anti-inflammatories).
However, this is not the best thing to do. Taking anti-inflammatories not only doesn't help healing, it actually slows it down and can prolong the process.
That's right, taking anti-inflammatory medicine right after an injury is bad for you.
Inflammation is what heals us. It's our body bringing the injury what it needs (neutrophils, macrophages, TNF, and a whole bunch of other healing juice).
It's a complex molecular process. The drugs inhibt the normal healthy inflammatory process prevent the injury from getting what it needs.
Inflammation is only bad when it becomes chronic and doesn't go away.
Here's a very thorough review of the inflammatory process and how anti-inflammatory can impair healing. The kind authors even left a nice flow chart for everyone to use.
Maybe an analogy will help.
- the injury like a forrest fire
- the inflammatory response as the firefighters
Now consider that the road to the fire is only open for the first few days and then closes forever. It's a temporary path. The fire will close down the path within days (weak plot point, I know).
Would you want to decrease the amount of fire fighters (inflammation) that can use those temporary roads to the fire (injury)?
Of course not. You'd want as many of them to rush in as quick as possible to help put it out.
Then once the fire is out, let them leave and go back home.
Just like how inflammation should work in an acute injury.
What to Do
Don't take anti-inflammatories.
Instead focus on pain management and getting to a good physical therapist.
- Pain Free Movement
- Movement Modifications
- Manual Therapy / Massage
- Dry Needling
Honestly, having a glass of wine to manage the pain might be better for your body than taking an anti-inflammatory in the first few days.
*disclaimer - do not use that as an excuse to drink your pain away every night, alcohol is should not be medicinal