In the same way that a horse that cannot compete in endurance without the
assistance of painkillers is not a suitable endurance mount...
...well...at the risk of offending everyone...
Endurance is not really a suitable sport for people who cannot comp(l)ete
without the use of painkillers.
Which isn't to say, that you aren't entitled to do so anyway.
I would never recommend anybody use painkillers as a long term solution
to the discomfort of riding long distances. Nor would I ever recommend
to someone that they use painkillers so that they can persist in a
voluntary, recreational activity to help abate acute pain.
Our bodies produce pain in order to induce us to REST when there is
something wrong. Masking this symptom so that we can continue without
rest is foolhardy, to say the least.
Personally, I do believe that painkillers do have their place (which is
to alleviate pain SO THAT you can rest...and recover); and, I suppose, I
would also recommend them in a "life or death" situation. Neither of
these situations applies to endurance riding.
There are some painkillers that also have other (beneficial) side
effects. Many of them are also anti-inflamatories, which can also aid in
recovery, but even so, this treatment should be coupled with rest.
I am not suggesting that people not be allowed to use painkillers when
endurance riding (after all, I'm the one that doesn't want any rules with
regards to rider safety). However, I will be so bold as to say that I
think it would be a good policy for everyone to follow.
The possible negative side effects of kidney damage, liver damage, or
renal failure associated with medicating a dehydrated body aside;
drugging yourself to be able to persist in the face of pain ought not be
encouraged. There is the long term damage to the system that is
generating the pain itself. If your knee hurts, so you take a painkiller
to alleviate the pain, you may not only have to deal with kidney damage,
you will probably have to deal with knee damage too.
Drugs that mask symptoms should be confined to being used for masking
uncomfortable symptoms so you can rest.
Orange County, Calif.
p.s. Many "homeopathic" remedies also have analgesic properties. They
are no less drugs than their synthetic counterparts, despite the fact
that they may come from a plant. After all, one of the first anasthetics
was coCAINE (like novoCAINE, lidoCAINE, benzoCAINE, etc.), and another
wonderful Chinese herbal extract that helps to alleviate pain in a
"natural" way is laudenum (aka. opium, aka morphine, aka heroin, aka
However, so that you may know my leaning...this is coming from someone
who can count on her hands the number of times she has taken aspirin (or
any other OTC pain killers), and has never taken a prescription painkiller.