Managing Joint Pain and Stiffness

Do you manage joint pain with ibuprofen or naproxen? Here’s the down and dirty about how these over-the-counter drugs may be affecting your joint cartilage.

Many studies from the American Journal of Medicine show that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)like ibuprofen (Advil) and indomethacin may increase the breakdown of cartilage in osteoarthritic joints, while inhibiting tissue repair. However, depending on the specific NSAID, not all studies show that NSAIDs damage cartilage. Further studies have concluded that older adults, a group commonly with osteoarthritic joints, that used NSAIDS including diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen (Aleve), ketoprofen and piroxicam, for extended periods of time have higher risks of cartilage defects and nonsignificant loss of cartilage compared to nonusers.

Athletes, older adults, overweight individuals and those that have been very active in their work or lifestyle their whole lives, usually develop osteoarthritis due to the “wear and tear” on the joints that lead to join pain and stiffness. In any case, remember that motion is lotion, and keep moving! Adjust your intensity as needed to accommodate your body’s needs

My professional advice is to use NSAIDs in very small moderation to manage your pain. Do not mistake my advice as permission to substitute with pharmaceutical drugs. Instead, ask your orthopedist about your use of NSAIDs and consult a registered dietitian, strength coach and yoga teacher for more information about managing your joint pain with quality nutrition and mobility training.

by: Danielle Fryer, RDN, CSCS


Danielle Fryer RDN, CSCS is an advocate for healthy living. Fryer is a registered dietitian nutritionist, specializing in sports dietetics, certified strength and conditioning specialist and yoga teacher. She has served in fitness and nutrition leadership roles in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, and Arizona. She now lives in Scottsdale and works as the new Director of Health & Fitness at The Country Club at DC Ranch.  

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