Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Minor ailment: Sports & muscle cramps - precautions for meds use

Time for super FAQs by my 'ever-intelligent' customers again. It is not the first time I am receiving enquiries for pain-relieving sprays or creams to be used during sports or marathon. Unfortunately, many of these preparations off the shelf contains salicylate which is NOT advisable for use during exercises. Salicylate is a local anagesic that acts by its counter-irritant and rubefacient effects on the skin. Upon heat exposure and exercise, topically applied salicylate would have an increased absorption into our bloodstream which can lead to adverse systemic reactions or increased risk for salicylate toxicity. Therefore, heating pads or occlusive bandages should not be used concurrently with these products and one should not apply these products during/after strenous exercise. They should be applied after the body has cooled down and not in excessive amounts.

Salicylates should also be used with caution in asthmatic or aspirin-sensitive individuals or those on warfarin as some skin penetration into the blood system can occur despite topical usage.

He claims that during marathon the medics will spray something on their muscles to relieve cramps at the rest stations. He asked me what is it, could it be Air Salonpas? I doubt so... since that also contains salicylate in its ingredient list. Really don't know what they use and am pretty interested to know too. Anybody from marathon medic?

**Advice for muscle cramps**

Stated in the Handbook of Non-prescription Drugs, stretching and massaging the affected cramp area immediately followed by rest or reduced activity will loosen the muscle. Stretching must be done cautiously to avoid muscle strain. For persistent cramps, heat should be applied to the area in the form of a warm compress, heating pad or hot-water bottle. Warming up and stretching the muscles prior to exercise, drinking sufficient fluids and not exercising to the point of exhaustion may prevent cramps.

If a sprain or injury has occurred during sports, I think it would only be wise to rest and seek appropriate treatment rather than attempt any painkillers and continue the sports which can lead to a sustained or more severe injury.

More on muscle cramps.

Something else to note since we are talking about pain-relief for sports, it was found that taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen before and during races may pose more harm than benefit. Read here for more about its misuse in sports. NSAIDs, afterall, is NOT a preventive medication but an anti-inflammatory and painkiller to be used for an acute injury / pain.

The non-salicylate spray...

Ethyl chloride spray is used for temporary relief of pain from minor sprains and muscle spasms. It produces and anesthetic and cooling effect. So I supposed it is like an alternative to ice therapy. I don't suppose this can be used during sports either when the muscles are all warmed up. For cramps relief, heat therapy and massage are still the recommended choices as mentioned.

Usage: The smallest dose needed to produce the desired effect should be used. The anesthetic effect of Ethyl Chloride rarely lasts more than a few seconds to a minute. This time interval is usually sufficient to help reduce or relieve the initial trauma of the injury. Determine the extent of injury (fracture, sprain, etc.). Spray the affected area from a distance of 3 to 9 inches (8-23 cm.) for 3 to 7 seconds until the skin just turns white. Avoid spraying the skin beyond this point. Source http://www.drugs.com/pdr/ethyl-chloride.html#ixzz0oCrtMA7Z

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