What is the best anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)?

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Many people are prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a variety of common orthopedic conditions, including arthritis , tendonitis , and bursitis . These medications are especially helpful not only because they help relieve pain, but they also help control swelling and inflammation .

However, as with any medication, there are risks and benefits, and people should exercise caution before turning to a bottle to treat their symptoms. While medications can be a safe and effective treatment for these orthopedic conditions, there may be safe alternatives to medications.

Before you start taking any medications, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor and always make sure your PCP is aware of any new medications you are taking, especially if you take them regularly.

What does anti-inflammatory mean?

Anti-inflammatory action refers to the ability of a drug to fight pain and unwanted or abnormal immune responses by reducing inflammation.

Are prescription NSAIDs better?

NSAIDs are available both over the counter and by prescription. It is very important to understand that while there are differences between prescription and over-the-counter NSAIDs, this difference is not possible symptom relief. Many patients find the best response to over-the-counter NSAIDs.

There have been no studies showing that newer NSAIDs (called COX-2 inhibitors ), prescription NSAIDs, or more expensive NSAIDs treat pain or swelling better than more traditional NSAIDs. Most of the studies evaluating the effects of NSAIDs have been done with over-the-counter ibuprofen.

What to bring

Often times, patients will respond differently to treatment with another drug. This may be why some medications have helped relieve symptoms while others have had little effect. This is not unusual, and it is difficult to predict which medications will benefit a particular person the most.

The best way to determine which NSAIDs works best for you is to try different options. Often times, a healthcare provider will recommend an NSAID, and if adequate symptom relief is not achieved within a few weeks of treatment, another NSAID can be tried.

One of the best reasons to consider some of the newer prescription drugs like Celebrex or Mobic is that they can be taken once a day, rather than three or four times a day. Also, COX-2 inhibitors are believed to have fewer stomach side effects.

While both over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs help with pain, stronger prescription NSAIDs are more likely to help with inflammation.

Most common NSAIDs

Drug names can be confusing, and doctors and other healthcare professionals often use generic and brand names interchangeably. Here is a list of some of the most commonly prescribed NSAIDs :

  • Aspirin (brands include Bayer, Ecotrin, Bufferin)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosin)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)

How else to control inflammation?

Medication is not the only way to combat inflammation and discomfort. As we become more aware of and sensitive to the possible side effects of any drug, more patients and healthcare professionals are becoming interested in non-pharmacological methods to control inflammation.

There are many ways to treat inflammation. Some of them have better scientific backing than others, but most are safe to try.

A good place to start is treating inflammation with RISOM, which stands for rest, ice, squeeze, and lift. Other therapies that may be helpful include the foods and supplements you take, local treatments for the sore area, and the actions we take.

Rest is an often neglected method of fighting inflammation. Not only does this mean taking a break from sports, it often means giving the injured part of the body a break from normal activities that can prolong inflammation.

A stressful life can make it difficult to rest, but ignoring the signs of inflammation can prolong the problem. Therefore, look for ways to rest the injured body part so that the inflammation subsides and the healing process begins.

Side effects of NSAIDs

Get Medical Information / Jessica Olah

NSAIDs have potential side effects, although many of these drugs are available without a prescription. Some of the side effects are minor, others are certainly concerning.

Some people may be more prone to side effects when they have other medical conditions. For this reason, NSAIDs should be used with caution. If you ever have a question about whether it is safe for you to take these medications, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Anyone who has been taking NSAIDs for more than a few days should speak to their healthcare provider about the possibility of side effects.

Some of the more common side effects of NSAIDs include:

  • Upset stomach / ulcers: Some people are prone to gastrointestinal upset and stomach ulcers as a result of taking these medications. People with a history of stomach ulcers should take NSAIDs with extreme caution and always under medical supervision.
  • Hypertension / stroke: NSAID use, especially for routine and long-term use, has been shown to increase the risk of hypertension and stroke . People at higher risk for these conditions should discuss the use of NSAIDs with their healthcare provider.
  • Risk of bleeding: Some NSAIDs can increase the risk of bleeding. This is especially true for aspirin. Most people can tolerate this, but people having surgery or taking other blood thinners may not be able to take NSAIDs.
  • Kidney problems : People with underlying kidney disease may not be able to take NSAIDs, even in very low doses, for a short time.

While these are not the only risks associated with taking NSAIDs, they are somewhat more common and some of the most concerning side effects. It is always safer to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about the risks of taking these medications.

It is important to understand that even healthy people without comorbidities always have a risk associated with taking any medication. The benefits of taking anti-inflammatory medications must be weighed against the potential risks associated with taking them.

Get the word of drug information

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are one of the most widely used types of drugs for musculoskeletal disorders. NSAIDs can be effective for a wide variety of orthopedic conditions, such as arthritis, tendonitis, or other inflammatory conditions.

Choosing the best NSAID for your condition can depend on a number of different factors, and what works well for one person may not be the best medicine for another. The patient should be aware of the possible side effects of various NSAIDs and should consult with their doctor if they are taking these drugs for a shorter period of time.

Frequently asked questions

  • There are not many direct studies comparing the two. An earlier study found that both drugs were effective in relieving knee arthritis symptoms again, but naproxen helped with other symptoms, such as nighttime pain. Generally, ibuprofen works and works faster, while naproxen works slower but lasts longer.

  • No. Ibuprofen and naproxen are NSAIDs. Taking more than one NSAID at a time is not recommended as it can increase the risk of side effects such as stomach problems.

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