What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are a large group of drugs that have pain-relieving (analgesic) and fever reducing (antipyretic) effects, as well as the effect of reducing inflammation when used over time. The anti-inflammatory effects may take anywhere from a few days to three weeks to take effect. Non-selective (traditional) NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, aspirin, Nabumetone and Naproxen work by inhibiting both the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes to stop the production of prostaglandins, while COX-2 inhibitors only block the COX-2 enzyme. Common uses for NSAIDs are:

  • Treatment of pain and inflammation associated with arthritis (inflammation and resulting pain of one or more joints, a common characteristic of over 200 rheumatic diseases with Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) being the most common forms).
  • Back pain and sciatica (pain down into the leg, which travels below the knee, and may involve the foot – may occur alone or accompanied by low back pain).
  • Sprains, strains and rheumatism (a chronic autoimmune disease with inflammation of the joints and marked deformities).
  • Dental Pain
  • Post-operative pain
  • Menstrual cramps (primary dysmenorrhoea – mild, and menorrhagia – heavy).
  • Pain from kidney stones (renal colic).
  • Reduction of fevers
  • Migraines (recurrent severe headaches generally accompanied by an aura (classic migraine), nausea, vomiting, and dizziness).
  • “Other painful conditions, particularly those with symptoms of inflammation.

NSAIDs come in different formulas and in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription strengths. Some may work better for you than others. Your physician can help you find the dose and medication that works best for you. Tell your physician if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, asthma, or a history of kidney or liver disease, or have had ulcers in the past. People over age 65 must be especially careful when taking NSAIDs. Also tell your doctor about other medications you are taking. NSAIDs may intensify or counteract the effects of some medications. Both the risk and the severity of side effects increase the longer you take NSAIDs.

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