Achy back, sore knees, stiff neck, joint paint. Whether it's getting out of bed, warming up on the range, post-workout soreness, physical trauma, or the infrequent joint flare-up, we've all experienced pain and inflammation. It's commonplace to pop a couple Advil and go on with your day, but there's compelling evidence to suggest that those NSAID's (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory's) like Advil and Tylenol may actually be doing more harm than good. The risks of taking over-the-counter pain reducers are proving to be a detrimental "band aid" in the fight against acute, and increasing chronic inflammation. Additionally, the war against inflammation goes well beyond that of short-term relief and stems into the potentially fatal disease states that chronic inflammation can create.
Pain and inflammation are associated with many common maladies, such as headaches, arthritis and menstrual problems - and consider that on any given day, an estimated 20 percent of Americans suffer from back pain (1). In fact, in golfers, it's more like 50%. That's a staggering statistic considering the popularity of the sport. An estimated 30 million Americans take over-the-counter drugs daily to deal with pain and inflammation. On an acute, or short-term basis, inflammation is a good thing. It is our body's natural immune response to destroy foreign pathogens and heal damaged tissues. Scrape your elbow, twinge your back, eat some bad food, get a cold, inflammation to the rescue. The problem is, we're always inflamed. Be it physical trauma, emotional stress, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol, weakened immune system, etc., too much inflammation for too long can be a very bad thing.
The Dark Side of Inflammation
The cover story from the February 2004 edition of TIME magazine was on inflammation, calling it "the Secret Killer". The reason this subject received such attention is that high levels of inflammation are associated with virtually every chronic disease including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, but also muscle and joint pain that many professional and recreational athletes (yes, even golfers) experience.
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