Chronic Pain > Medications > NSAIDs


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) are used to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. Among the most commonly used pain relievers in the world, NSAIDS alleviate symptoms for 30 million Americans daily. They also help to soothe swelling, decrease the discomfort of arthritis, strains and sprains, lower fevers and much more.

NSAIDs, unlike opioids, do not cause sedation or respiratory depression. NSAIDs work by reducing the production of cyclooxygenase. Cylooxygenase, aka Cox-1 and Cox-2 is the precursor of prostaglandins, a family of chemicals which generates fever, inflammation and pain. By blocking the Cox, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs get to the root of prostaglandins by stopping them before they can be built.

As a result, NSAIDs are proven to be quite effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sports Injuries
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Blood Clots
  • Stroke Prevention
  • Heart Attacks
  • Acute Gout
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Renal Colic

Although NSAIDs are generally mild, they do have some potential side effects. Usually people complain of some stomach upset such as nausea and/or vomiting. In rare instances, individuals may bruise more easily. Some people may develop ulcers especially if they use NSAIDs on a regular basis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can carry risks of kidney disease and heart failure in patients with no known history of heart failure. As with any medication, if you have any difficulties, please contact your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if something goes awry.

Note that certain classes of NSAIDs are not recommended during pregnancy, specifically during the third trimester.

NSAIDs are classified based on their chemical structure. There are a variety of different types of NSAIDs. These include:

  • Salicylates (Aspirin, Salsalate, etc)
  • Proprionic Acids (Naproxen, Ibuprofen, etc)
  • Acetic Acids (Tolmetin, Sulindac, etc.)
  • Enolic Acids
  • Fenamic Acids
  • Napthylalkanones
  • Pyranocarboxylic acids
  • Pyrroles
  • Cox-2 Inhibitors (Celecoxib)

Some of these medications are available over the counter. However, the majority of these are only available by prescription. Take as directed. If you suspect that you’ve taken more than you should have, please seek medical attention immediately and keep NSAIDs out of reach of children.

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