I’m putting out a short series of hiker tips, given the eventual melting of snow outside my window that will eventual lead to starting up again backpacking season once again. People have started thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in droves already, starting in Georgia and moving north, here to Maine.
One practice that they best avoid is the tendency to treat ibuprofen like a cough drop, and ingest it on a daily basis, sometimes for months at a time. In fact, ibuprofen is jokingly referred to in hiker circles as “Vitamin I”.
At one time, twenty years ago, I was taking 600- 800 mg every four hours, on a daily basis. I was experiencing severe pain in my right shoulder, suffering from chronic shoulder impingement, a nasty constellation of tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis. I eventually succumbed to surgery, after my sleep became increasingly interrupted. What led to my decision to do the surgery was the advice of the shoulder specialist, who told me that I was using ibuprofen in a manner that could lead to heart problems and increase my risk of stroke or heart attack. Given my family history, I listened to him. I may still have pain where I have to take 600 mg/ 4 hours for a day or two, but then that’s it.
Learning to appropriately address pain is sometimes part of the hiking game. Pain is a signal that let’s the body know that something may need to change, and not always eradicated.
Now, there are additional concerns expressed about ibuprofen, especially if your heart is not that healthy to start with.
Ask your doctor about your use of ibuprofen, and check out the link below to today’s editorial in the Bangor Daily News. it’s short, but the takeaway in the past line sums it up pretty well:
“What you don’t know can hurt you.”