Back Pain Medication

Using Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for Back Pain

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are drugs that are used to relieve pain and inflammation. NSAIDs include nonprescription products, such as:
 
 
More than a dozen other NSAIDs, including a subclass of NSAIDs called COX-2 inhibitors, are available only with a prescription. Some examples include:
 
 
All NSAIDs work by blocking substances called prostaglandins, which contribute to inflammation and pain. However, each NSAID is a different chemical, and each has a slightly different effect on the body.
 
Side effects of all NSAIDs can include:
 
 
However, COX-2 inhibitors are designed to cause fewer stomach ulcers. For unknown reasons, some people seem to respond better to one NSAID than another. Therefore, it is important for people to work with their doctor to choose an NSAID that is safe and effective for them when treating back pain.
 
Key Points to Consider With NSAIDs
Key information about NSAIDs includes:
 
  • NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation or, less often, they can affect kidney function.
 
  • The longer a person uses NSAIDs, the more likely he or she is to have side effects, ranging from mild to serious.
 
  • Many other drugs cannot be taken when a person is being treated with NSAIDs because they alter the way the body uses or eliminates these other drugs. Check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking NSAIDs if you are taking other medications.
 
  • NSAIDs can be associated with serious gastrointestinal problems, including ulcers, bleeding, and perforation of the stomach or intestine. People over age 65 and those with any history of ulcers or gastrointestinal bleeding should use NSAIDs with caution.
 
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