Anti-inflammatory medications impair healing of musculoskeletal injuries

Non- steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most frequently prescribed medications used in the management of painful musculoskeletal injuries. These group of drugs include, ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen . NSIADs are recommended for the reduction of pain and swelling associated with acute soft tissue injuries, because of there analgesic and anti- inflammatory effects. NSIADs are also commonly used to decrease the symptoms of long term pain and inflammation in diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and other chronic inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

For many years it was widely accepted that by inhibiting the natural inflammatory process of the body, NSAIDs would provide a quicker and more effective return to normal function after injury. However, there is little evidence to support this notion. It is now well recognized that these pharmaceuticals have a negative impact on wound healing. The capacity of anti- inflammatory drugs to suppress the cellular wound response and thus interfere in normal healing, has been documented in a number of studies. A range of negative effects have been found to occur, including excessive scar tissue formation and the suppression of collagen fiber synthesis, in the healing of soft tissue injuries, such as in pulled tendons and ligament strains.

NSIADs have also been reported to interfere in fracture healing and to accelerate osteoarthritis and joint degeneration. It is perhaps because of a lack of adequate information provided by prescribing physicians, that many patients are under the mistaken impression that anti- inflammatory drugs not only reduce pain, but also promote healing. This just simply is not the case because inflammation is an integral part of the healing process.