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Ibuprofen - Cautionary Tale

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
#1
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
 

Athena Atterdag

time&space traveller
Camino(s) past & future
Via Francigena (2017, 2018)
Via Turonensis (2018)
Camino de Invierno (2018)
#2
Oh my. Get well soon, and may everything be okay!

Thanks for the warning, too!
 
Camino(s) past & future
April 2018
#3
Just curious, did you take the doses with food? From what i understand that helps a lot to avoid some side effects.

I'm now on camino taking the spanish high dose ibuprofen twice a day for knee issues, so hopefully all will be ok!!

Get well soon!
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#4
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!

I have wondered over and over again where these warnings about Ibuprofen come from. There are various threads on this forum. EVERY condition mentioned in those threads is also mentioned on the leaflet that comes with the medication and also on websites with info about Ibuprofen. If you cannot read the local language, look it up, for instance here https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-5166-9368/ibuprofen-oral/ibuprofen-oral/details

Yet every problem is reported here as a shocking discovery, combined with a warning .... is this a cultural thing? The fact that medication is sold over the counter does not mean you can take it freely. You still have to read the leaflet and decide if this medication is safe for you. When in doubt, ask a medical professional, do not rely on an urban myth like Ibuprofen is the pilgrims friend and it is fine to take one every morning.

Because it isn't.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#5
@LesBrass so sorry to hear.Quick recovery.

@MinaKamina : full agreement with you.

Extra note to future pilgrims : pain while walking is a sign from our body to slow down or stop. Act accordingly.
Ibuprofen is sometimes called vit. I in this Camino community. It is certainly not as harmless as vit.C.
 

MeandIan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May2018
#7
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
I was amazed that Spain has a 600mg tablet and l have asked before if people knew how dangerous it is and that caution must be taken.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
#8
It is helpful to remember that inflammation is the body's healing response to injury - inflammation is not the injury itself. So, if you suppress inflammation with an anti-inflammatory drug, you will tend to slow down the healing process.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#10
Please remember also that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may cause kidney failure or high blood pressure, leading to heart attacks or strokes. I also use these drugs to control arthritis pain on camino, but with great care.
 

MikeyC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - September 2016
CF - April May 2017
Shikoku - October 2017
Kumano Kodo - October 2017
#11
It is helpful to remember that inflammation is the body's healing response to injury - inflammation is not the injury itself. So, if you suppress inflammation with an anti-inflammatory drug, you will tend to slow down the healing process.
The NHS, the UK's health service, advice is to wait 48 hours after a sprain, strain, etc... before taking ibuprofen. As you rightly say, this is to allow the body to start the healing process naturally.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#12
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
Lesbrass, sorry to read of your health issue. When you have had time to deal with that, what about your shoes? Were they ok? I am dying to know!
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes please!
#13
@LesBrass - so sorry to hear about another camino related injury! Thank you for the warning, I think it is a timely reminder before the pilgrim high season. A lot of people think it is perfectly safe and don't read the leaflet, I have even known pilgrims who take ibuprofen every day as a precaution, before there is any pain to kill! Calling NSAIDs 'camino candy', 'vitamin P' etc doesn't help either. When there is pain, maybe a cream straight on the skin would be better than taking tablets? I will be trying out my Paingone pen on my five week walk this summer, it is instant and has no side effects that I have come across. Get well soon, peregrina!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - central from Porto (2018 - planned)
#14
As I've mentioned elsewhere, they NSAIDs like ibuprofen can also lead to chronic idiopathic urticaria (persistent and extensive hives, sometimes accompanied by swellings, that don't go away for months or years without very expensive treatment). Which isn't to say that no one should ever take these medications. Just that it is good to be aware of the potential side effects so that if they start to appear you can put two and two together.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016, Astorga to Fisterra
Sept 2018, SJPDP to Fisterra
#15
Just curious, did you take the doses with food? From what i understand that helps a lot to avoid some side effects.

I'm now on camino taking the spanish high dose ibuprofen twice a day for knee issues, so hopefully all will be ok!!
Get well soon!

Hi amandam

Ibuprofen does not act from the stomach side but is adsorbed and inhibits the COX enzymes (cyclooxynenase) of which there are two variants. One of the COX is involved in inflammation and ibuprofen hence dampens inflammation. But COX is also involved in platelet activation and ibuprofen is therefore affects blood clotting. And COX is involved in mucus production in the stomach, which is why ibuprofen can result in bleeding and ulcers. However, as with everything else the risk is individual as many other factors are involved. So as mentioned by others, use ibuprofen is you think it helps you but be aware of possible side effects like stomach ache. And food along with intake has no effect.

A side note, aspirin (salicylic acid) also inhibits the COXs but is worse for the stomach as it inhibits the “stomach COX” more than ibuprofen. So avoid aspirin when possible if ibuprofen is available.

Buen Camino. Best, Chris
 

Eugenia MinskLund

The only way to do it is to do it.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from SJPDP (14 July - 17 August 2018)
#18
In case you have to take Ibuprofen or aspirin you can protect your stomach by taking Pantoprazol or Omeprazol, both sold in Portugal and in Spain.
I am sorry, but Omeprazol does not protect your stomach. It lowers the level of acid in it. But if the natural level of a person is naturally low, it will hurt like hell (learned it the bad way myself).
 
#19
As I've mentioned elsewhere, they NSAIDs like ibuprofen can also lead to chronic idiopathic urticaria (persistent and extensive hives, sometimes accompanied by swellings, that don't go away for months or years without very expensive treatment). Which isn't to say that no one should ever take these medications. Just that it is good to be aware of the potential side effects so that if they start to appear you can put two and two together.
I

I am one who has had the swellings ( with increasing frequency, above my eyes, my jaws) and finally after years and years they were diagnosed as, essentially, an allergy to NSAIDs. I used to take Ibuprofen on all my Caminos (and other hikes) every three hours. After the diagnosis I completely stopped taking NSAIDs and I haven't had swellings for two years now. For some reason, Celebrex (celecoxib) does not cause the swellings and I can take that to deal with arthritic pain.
 

Luc007

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
New member - plan to walk camino first time Sept 2018
#20
LesBrass, Sorry to hear about your fall and injury and subsequent bad experience (vomiting/abdominal pain...) attributed to ibuprofen.
I am not a doctor but I do have a lot of experience with ibuprofen. By that, I mean I have taken this drug many many times over many years to treat minor pain and inflammation. Along with acetaminophen (tylenol) and naproxen (aleev). These are all OTC in most countries and are widely used and very rarely produce bad outcomes - unless of course, they are abused (or tainted). They all have side effects which are widely known (ibuprofen/aspirin: hard on stomach and kidneys, tylenol: hard on the liver).
Now you say you took one every morning and sometimes in the evening for a week. This does not indicate abuse at all. Was this the first time you ever took ibuprofen?

You had a previous similar episode following cancer treatment. Could it be that the cancer or treatment has rendered you somehow extremely sensitive to it? I have never heard of anyone having such a strong and negative reaction to ibuprofen following such a short and small administration of it.
I am not saying the ibuprofen did not harm you. What I am saying is that ibuprofen is not harming others to that extent. These drugs are so ubiquitous and used globally. But we must all read and heed the warnings.
I hope the biopsy and tests come back OK. And if ibuprofen turns out to be the culprit then you should give your doctor royal crap for not having warned you to never take any.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#21
I've walked three Caminos and after the first several days of walking I develop a stabbing pain in my mid-back area by the afternoon of walking. I have taken two 200 mg ibuprofen tablets each time and found relief. I then keep using it for a few more days to "make sure" it does not return and thankfully it never has each time.

Sooo, what is a person to take for relief if all these well known otc drugs are bad for us? What are our options for alternatives?

Has anyone else experienced the type of back pain I described? It is not lower back pain, but on one side of my mid-back and becomes sort of like a knife stabbing. I never have this pain at home. I have used two different Osprey packs, both with Airspeed trampoline style vented backs. I hope my problem is unrelated to my backpack.
 

Karenmc49

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
No pasts...want to plan the Camino for May 2018
#22
I’ve taken the odd NSAID over the years with no ill effects..then out of the blue I took one Iboprofen and had an anaphylactic reaction..Respiratory arrest, the lot..
Fortunately I lived with someone trained in resuscitation..
Soooo, I’ve learned a fair bit about these drugs over the past couple of years.
Many people have bad reactions , particularly if you have any history of asthma .
There is no way of knowing if you are the person who can take these drugs for a month with no side effects, or if just a days worth will put a hole in your digestive tract.
There Is no hard evidence that taking them with food is of any benefit. The drug has to be absorbed to be effective.
Me? Well a couple of Panadol and a glass of red has to do these days..
Buen Camino!
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#23
LesBrass, Sorry to hear about your fall and injury and subsequent bad experience (vomiting/abdominal pain...) attributed to ibuprofen.
I am not a doctor but I do have a lot of experience with ibuprofen. By that, I mean I have taken this drug many many times over many years to treat minor pain and inflammation. Along with acetaminophen (tylenol) and naproxen (aleev). These are all OTC in most countries and are widely used and very rarely produce bad outcomes - unless of course, they are abused (or tainted). They all have side effects which are widely known (ibuprofen/aspirin: hard on stomach and kidneys, tylenol: hard on the liver).
Now you say you took one every morning and sometimes in the evening for a week. This does not indicate abuse at all. Was this the first time you ever took ibuprofen?

You had a previous similar episode following cancer treatment. Could it be that the cancer or treatment has rendered you somehow extremely sensitive to it? I have never heard of anyone having such a strong and negative reaction to ibuprofen following such a short and small administration of it.
I am not saying the ibuprofen did not harm you. What I am saying is that ibuprofen is not harming others to that extent. These drugs are so ubiquitous and used globally. But we must all read and heed the warnings.
I hope the biopsy and tests come back OK. And if ibuprofen turns out to be the culprit then you should give your doctor royal crap for not having warned you to never take any.
Some people are just much more prone to issues, my father's mother died in 2001 after 2 weeks of prescribed Ibuprofen for sore knees. She basically just bleed to death, was unconscious for the last 2 days. There was nothing they could do, they described her as being like a 'sieve'.
My father (we are slow learners it seems) also was hospitalized after having it prescribed for a shoulder injury. I think he had taken 2-3, by the time he realised something was amiss, severe bleeding and vomiting. They were able to treat him successfully.
In 2006, I landed in hospital myself with severe bleeding, after taking only 1. Clearly I'm still alive, but feeling foolish as I should have known better.
But I now have a medic alert bracelet, as it so commonly used, people dont think twice.
 
Last edited:

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
#26
I've walked three Caminos and after the first several days of walking I develop a stabbing pain in my mid-back area by the afternoon of walking. I have taken two 200 mg ibuprofen tablets each time and found relief. I then keep using it for a few more days to "make sure" it does not return and thankfully it never has each time.

Sooo, what is a person to take for relief if all these well known otc drugs are bad for us? What are our options for alternatives?

Has anyone else experienced the type of back pain I described? It is not lower back pain, but on one side of my mid-back and becomes sort of like a knife stabbing. I never have this pain at home. I have used two different Osprey packs, both with Airspeed trampoline style vented backs. I hope my problem is unrelated to my backpack.
Hi Chris, sorry to read . The backpain really could be from so many reasons.
I can speak from experience right now ( though not back )..
I can only advise to see your gp/specialist and ask ,if needed, a referral for ultrasound / X ray.
 

MeandIan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May2018
#27
The ibuprofen I get there is 800mg
That is actually quite incredible! As an anaesthetic nurse, I always check the dosages. I find it scary that people don’t protect their gut. Perhaps the medication in Spain has a built in mucosal protective agent. As a matter matter of interest, a lower dose combined with paracetamol is very effective. However, all drugs have its side effects and cautions. Please take care.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago, St Jean to Santuago, 2015
Camino Portuguese, 2018
#29
When I walked the Camino in Spain in 2015, I had one prescription med-thyroid. Got a refill in Spain without problem. Now I have 4 more rx meds, one of which is a blood thinner. I have a Road ID bracelet that has contact info and the website, phone, and pin to access my medical info. Thinking of how to draw attention to that if I were unable to speak . Tattoo? Sign to hang around my neck? Of course I am hoping/expecting it will never be needed.
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
#30
When I walked the Camino in Spain in 2015, I had one prescription med-thyroid. Got a refill in Spain without problem. Now I have 4 more rx meds, one of which is a blood thinner. I have a Road ID bracelet that has contact info and the website, phone, and pin to access my medical info. Thinking of how to draw attention to that if I were unable to speak . Tattoo? Sign to hang around my neck? Of course I am hoping/expecting it will never be needed.
Wear the bracelet, what else? Add visible info about the blood thinner if you want / can.
 
Camino(s) past & future
September 18 to October 25 (2016) from SJPDP.
#31
When I walked the Camino in 2016 I thought I had muscle pain. It even kept me from sleeping. I tried taking Ibuprofen but it did very little for me. I tried other things that were suggested. After 38 days I made it to Santiago near the end of Oct. I got home and diagnosed myself via the Internet. Finally in January I went to the doctor for a referral to a physical therapist. They had me have x-rays. I had severe, bone on bone osteoarthritis. I have been asked how I was able to walk 500 miles in that shape. It was not knowing what was really going on and determination. I now have a new hip. The other side has moderate osteoarthritis. I am happy I did the Camino while I could. The cautionary tale is that taking pills and not knowing what the real problem is can be dangerous. My pain was nerve rubbing, not only inflammation. I can see how someone self medicating could overuse something like this.
 

CatherineAnn

CF summer 2016
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Camino Frances (2016)
#32
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
I didn't realize how strong they were in Spain. I came home with liver totally messed up and still is 2 years later. Glad you posted the cautionary tale and everyone only take pain meds if absolutely necessary.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Planning to walk the Camino Frances mid May 2018
#33
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
When in pain your body is giving a message: REST. Taking pain killers is ignoring the message which can result in worse issues. Take time out. It’s not a race. Enjoy
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ) ,Via San Francesco, Italy (2017 )
Camino Portugese (2018 )
#34
The analgesic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen is sold under a wide variety of brand names across the world; the most common being its first registered trademark name of Brufen, along with Advil, Motrin, and Nurofen. I was once told that this drug was called the pilgrims friend and it was fine to take one every morning.

About a week ago I fell and hurt my coccyx when visiting Samos... with still a week to go on my camino I took an ibuprofen each morning... sometimes before bed too if it was painful. I got home on Tuesday and after a long train journey took another.

Yesterday I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. The diagnosis... inflammation and erosion of the duodenum and stomach lining. I have had this before, following my cancer treatment but that was a few years ago... the hospital concludes that it was probably due to the ibuprofen.

I never realised the dangers of taking these over the counter drugs... you can buy them in large doses in Spain which I think compounds the problem. I've got a month of medication to help heal my stomach and then follow-up tests and another stomach biopsy.

So... the moral of this story is... proceed with caution!
Large doses, not recommended in the US to treat everyday aches/inflammation AND it's not buffered or coated as in the US. Indeed it would wreck your stomach ! Hope you've recovered !
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF December 2017
#35
The 600mg ibuprofen in Spain is a real trap. Each tablet is 200mg here in Australia with a recommended maximum dosage of 2. Don’t take a couple of the Spanish ones by mistake - that would certainly stir up your stomach.
 

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