Managing delayed-onset muscle soreness: lack of effect of selected oral systemic analgesics

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2000 Jul;81(7):966-72. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2000.6277.


Objective: To investigate the efficacy of commonly available analgesics in the management of delayed-onset muscle soreness over an 11-day period.

Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial.

Setting: University laboratory.

Participants: Sixty healthy volunteers (30 men, 30 women) with no current arm pain or pathology completed the experimental procedure.

Interventions: Subjects were randomly allocated to one of five experimental groups: control; placebo; aspirin (900 mg); codeine (60 mg); and paracetamol (1000 mg) (n = 12 in all groups). Delayed soreness was induced in the nondominant elbow flexors using a standardized exercise protocol of repeated eccentric contractions.

Main outcome measures: Pain (visual analogue scale; McGill pain questionnaire [MPQ]), range of extension, flexion and resting angle (universal goniometer), and mechanical pain threshold (pressure algometer). Measurements were taken before and after drug administration each day, except for the MPQ, which was completed on the first and third days of the experiment.

Results: Analysis of results using repeated-measures analysis of variance and relevant post hoc tests provided no evidence of the effectiveness of any of the preparations.

Conclusion: There is no beneficial effect from the medications, at least at the doses stated, in the management of delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Aspirin / pharmacology
  • Codeine / pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Elbow Joint / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Codeine