Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or irritation. As a self-defense mechanism, inflammation can be key to determining what is wrong, although reducing that inflammation is crucial to managing your pain. Taking an NSAID can help reduce pain.
Instead of prescribing opioids or narcotic pain medications, many physicians recommend taking NSAIDs to relieve aches and pains.
What are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are used to treat a myriad of symptoms, inflammation, and relieve pain. NSAIDs are sold over-the-counter at a much lower cost than strong pain medications.
NSAIDs are a classification of drugs that prevent the body’s production of an enzyme called cyclooxgenase (COX) from making a chemical – prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a big trigger of inflammation, fever, and pain. This chemical also has other effects on the body. They maintain the lining of the stomach, promote blood clots, and help kidney functions. If patients take NSAIDs for a long period of time, there can be a negative effect, especially when they are not taken under the supervision of a doctor.
How NSAIDs are Used
NSAIDs are used to treat multiple symptoms such as inflammation and aches caused by chronic pain conditions. Conditions from acute headaches to chronic pain to osteoarthritis can be managed with NSAIDs:
- Muscle aches
- Gout pain
- Activity-related pain
- Neck stiffness
- Post-surgical pain
Although they work similarly, an NSAID reacts to everyone differently. They are typically inexpensive and easy to find at local drugstores. Talk to your doctor for specific dosing.
The four most common types of over-the-counter NSAIDs are:
- Aspirin: (Bayer, Ecotrin) In addition to treating pain, fevers, and inflammation, Aspirin may also reduce the risk of heart attacks.
- Ibuprofen: (Advil, Motrin) Ibuprofen treats a range of pain – from post-surgical to headaches. Stronger dosages are available for prescription.
- Naproxen: (Aleve) Naproxen is typically used to treat back pain.
- Celecoxib: (Celebrex) Celecoxib is commonly used to treat arthritis pain.