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Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 2:27 pm
by chumley
Catchy thread title, huh?
(The poll is anonymous ... replies to this thread are not anonymous).

I'm genuinely interested in the opinions or habits of others on this because I've seen a wide range of drugs that people use before, during, and after hiking.

I think the most common is ibuprofen (Advil/Motrin) and whatever Aleve is, or old-skool aspirin (Bayer) which are all NSAID (anti-inflammatory) drugs.

Then there are OTC pain killers like acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Prescription pain-killers I've seen on the trail include Vicodin (acetaminophen plus hydrocodone) and Percocet (acetaminophen plus oxycodone) and oxycontin.

Some people medicate with marijuana.

Plenty of hikers drink alcohol, but I'm not sure that is ever to relieve physical pain on or after a hike.

As for me, I generally try to avoid drugs unless it is absolutely necessary. I carry Advil, Aleve, and some old Vicodin in my med kit, but even on a multi-day backpack trip in the Grand Canyon I generally don't take even one Advil. I was prescribed the Vicodin for an injury years ago but never took one. But I figure if I ever need to self-rescue from something it might be good to have on hand. I personally consider alcohol and weed to be purely social, not medicinal (though I totally accept that marijuana has medicinal uses for many people).

I've seen some people eat Advil like candy -- it's just part of the hiking routine. I wonder how typical this is.

I know everybody is different (and every body is different) so what one person needs, another person does not so these opinions and experiences can't necessarily be applied from one to another. But I think it's an interesting topic nonetheless.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 2:44 pm
by big_load
I used to take aspirin with some regularity for aches and pains and was satisfied with the results. Last year I experimented with letting the pain take care of itself, especially after workouts. I was surprised to find that I adjusted to the change without undue suffering. I now take aspirin quite infrequently, and never take anything else for pain.

I was dealt a pretty good hand, health-wise. I don't require any medication beyond coffee, which keeps me from being a danger to society. My only prescription is for bifocals.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 2:54 pm
by flagscott
I answer these as a runner and long-distance hiker. I cannot ever recall taking a painkiller before or during a day hike or short backpacking trip. On longer backpacking trips, I've only used painkillers for bad blisters (plus once for a day after I fell and got a bad bone bruise on the AT). As a general rule, though, I will not use painkillers to mask muscle/bone/joint pain. I want to be able to monitor my pain and see if it's improving or not. It's far too easy to take a bunch of painkillers and have a minor injury of some sort turn into a major injury. Zero interest in letting that happen to me. If I end up sore the day after a hike or run, I won't take painkillers because I want to make sure that it's not getting worse and to give myself motivation to lay off of whatever muscles are causing the pain.

That said, holy crap have I seen abuse of painkillers by long-distance hikers. On the AT, I gave a bunch of ibuprofen that I didn't need to a guy who needed to take 8 before starting hiking in the morning plus a pooeyload more during the day. Some people just don't know how to listen when their body is telling them to take a rest.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 3:09 pm
by trekkin_gecko
have ibuprofen on hand, rarely take it
same reasons as flagscott
will bring it on a longer or remote hike
did take a couple both nights in the sierra nevadas last september
definitely need my coffee in the morning
if I need to take something to hike, then I need to evaluate my strength and flexibility, cross-train or rest

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 3:29 pm
by LindaAnn
I always keep a few ibuprofin in my pack, but rarely take any--maybe one or two every few months. When I do, it's usually for a headache or knee pain.

I have an almost six year old bottle of generic Vicodin that's still half full; but if I were to take even one while hiking, I wouldn't be walking for very long, they make me sleep for a good 8-10 hours.

No coffee for me. No energy drinks either. If I drink alcohol while or after hiking, it's not for anything related to pain.

My hip has been hurting off and on the last few months, but I've found ways to either prevent or work around the pain without resorting to painkillers beyond the occasional ibuprofin. For myself, if the pain from an injury was bad enough to require anything stronger, I probably just wouldn't hike until the pain was gone.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 4:45 pm
by toddak
I'll pop an occasional ibuprofen if the knees are getting really sore from lots of downhill pounding. But my preferred drug is a small bottle of Pepsi. Mid-afternoon, seven or eight hours into a long day, the sugar and caffeine really help push on through to the finish.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 5:19 pm
by chumley
I see a lot of energy product use. Whether caffeine or whatever they make 5-hr and other energy products with. I guess that I didn't really consider them as part of drugs that people take for hiking pain. I mentally classified those into more of a nutrition category than drugs. Though caffeine is a drug many use daily it can be consumed in food and beverages or in otc drugs such as Excedrin. Do any of the pain killers increase energy? Probably not doctor recommended for such use!

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 5:41 pm
by LindaAnn
@chumley I don't think energy drinks mask pain, but I don't drink them, so I wouldn't know. I think some people do use them though to mask when they are overly tired, which can probably lead to careless injuries. Extreme example I'm sure, but just my line of thinking.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 6:48 pm
by Al_HikesAZ
I haven't always been this way. Now that I'm old, before a big hike or while backpacking I take M&Ms for breakfast (Motrin (ibuprofen) & Schiff's Move-free (Glucosamine-chondroitin)). When backpacking I take an Excedrin for breakfast for the caffeine. When backpacking, I take a Motrin(Advil) before going to sleep. These old aching bones need something to help sleeping on the ground. I am not going to become a hanger at this point in my life.

I have a few Oxycodone in my medical kit but I have never used them.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 7:27 pm
by Nighthiker
Chocolate milk works for me, if needed.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 8:47 pm
by SpiderLegs
So to sound all hippy dippy I've dramatically cut back on my use of OTC pain relievers with the use of natural supplements and dietary changes. I used to eat ibuprofen like candy at one point of my hiking and trail running career. Now I eat raw ginger and turmeric almost every day along with drinking bone broth and kombucha most days of the week. Biggest thing for me has been dramatically cutting back on sugar. In the past I would eat a tin of Altoids every other day and eat a ClifBar or two for lunch. Once I read that ClifBars have almost as much sugar as a Snickers Bar I gave them up and along with the Altoids. What I noticed is that most of my minor aches and pains went away. Now ibuprofen is reserved for true muscle aches, like throwing out my back or a hike/run with a bunch of AEG.

And as much as it pains me to say this, the weeks that I cut back on drinking beer I recover faster with fewer aches and pains. Beer doesn't love me back like it used to.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 9:01 pm
by Jim_H
We have an opioid epidemic in this country for a reason. The cartels, I mean pharmaceutical companies want you to believe they are safe. And, Oh, they are, they are,....blah blah blah, tell that to the huge percentage of the population that is addicted to them, because they were prescribed them once. Some go to Heroin, too. Some don't. Just because you were prescribed it once doesn't mean it is safe.

NSAIDS are actually some of the worst things people can do to their body long term, and they have short term affects, too. I had a patient one time who was on dialysis from long term Ibuprofen use. There is probably a black box warning about exceeding 5000 MG of Acetaminophen a day, as it destroys your liver. Some places are hedging lower, 4500 mg a day.

Then again, people take Chemo for cancer, and a shocking number of people want and then take antibiotics for a cold. I try to buy grassfed beef.

I also try to avoid medications of all kinds, all the time.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 10 2017 9:28 pm
by Pivo
I didn't see an option to select " All or All of the above"?

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 6:26 am
by CannondaleKid
Pivo wrote:I didn't see an option to select " All or All of the above"?
Just check the Before, During & After boxes along with all the Always boxes, unless it's too painful to check that many. :)

Personally, I don't take anything for pain relief before during or after a hike for normal (at my age 'normal' is relative) aches & pains. Although I carry a lot of stuff I may never need (yup, Inspector Gadget), I just realized there's nothing for pain relief in my pack.
Yes Chumley, with a bigger pack I have even more gadgets now. :-$

Thanks to Tracey being very schooled & experienced in dietary health, growing our own greens in large grow-boxes as well as being great at cooking for a healthy diet, I have no need to worry.
(What we do buy is organic as much as possible along with good stuff like grass-fed beef, etc.)

I was on a few prescribed meds for decades for degenerative arthritis in the neck (from an injury) but stopped about 8 years ago when I ramped up my exercise hiking and biking. Even now as arthritis is progressing in my hips, knees, ankles and fingers, I find exercise works better than anything.

Caffeine? Although I love the smell of fresh coffee beans, it's a rare occasion that I drink coffee.
Sodas/energy drinks? Tracey says, 'not in this house!'
Beer? Never found a taste for it
Illicit/recreational drugs? Never

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 6:48 am
by hikerdw
For the recreation of hiking, the only time I pre medicate is when higher altitude is involved, 2 Excedrin helps with the headaches. A few years back when I was going through a rough patch health wise and no cause could be found, my doctor suggested Quercetin, a natural anti-inflammatory, with other benefits as well. I take 2 of those daily.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 7:04 am
by flagscott
A few people mentioned not drinking alcohol. A quick point there: a large body of scientific studies have reported that drinking ~1 drink a day extends lifespan by reducing heart disease risk. Not saying that anyone who does not drink should start, and I personally have a "to each their own" attitude when it comes to this sort of thing, so I'm not judging. But the idea that moderate drinking is somehow bad for you has been pretty much disproven. Excess drinking, however, is quite unhealthy. ... h_benefits

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 7:58 am
by The_Dude
I have a pill kit I bring along that has naproxin (Aleve type), ibubrofen, sudafed, pepto (pill form), and benadryl in it to combat a wide range of potential issues. I rarely use any on day hikes, but I find I do like a naproxin or two in the morning if I am backpacking to help combat knee & shoulder fatigue. I try to keep my usage in general down to a minimum, but naproxin/ ibuprofen does help with joint pain from time to time.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 9:03 am
by Pivo
I am starting to take one day off per week plus and easy/recovery day too. In addition yoga twice a week to help with flexibility. Today was my yoga day, just got home, also my day off too. A little Vitamin I every now and then I find help with my back.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 9:24 am
by rcorfman
In the last couple years or so, I've backpacked over 1,000 miles and have taken a couple Ibuprofen before sleep maybe three times. I take Acetaminophen at home for headaches every now and then but I prefer aspirin for that.

The medical treatment I do most often though, isn't on the list, but is to apply a talc powder such as Gold Bond before bed. Helps dry things and avoid chafing.

Re: Hiking pain and pill popping

Posted: Jan 11 2017 10:08 am
by CannondaleKid
rcorfman wrote:Helps dry things and avoid chafing.
Silk sheets may work even better for the chafing... :)