When a person has pain, one of the first medications usually grabbed out of the medicine cabinet is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). In this article we will discuss the use of NSAIDs and specifically with back pain.
NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs with analgesic and antipyretic properties. Analgesic refers to controlling pain and antipyretic refers to reducing fever. The inflammatory effect of these medications is what separates these drugs from acetaminophen better known as Tylenol. Tylenol reduces pain and fever but does not hit inflammation. NSAIDs work by reducing the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are chemicals that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. Because of these functions, prostaglandins have long been a target for treatment of pain.
NSAIDs are a perfect first line medication for a new onset of back pain. The majority of patients with back pain also deal with inflammation that contributes to their condition. So breaking down this scenario, how can we effectively treat the symptom of pain and inflammation? Answer? — NSAIDs. As stated earlier, NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory drugs that have analgesic (pain-killing) properties. They have a fast onset of action and last for several hours depending on the specific NSAID medication.
NSAIDs have a very large list of diverse indications. Some of these include; arthritis, acute pain, sports injuries, menstrual cramps, headaches, etc. Aspirin is the only NSAID that is used for preventing strokes and heart attacks in certain individuals. Examples of NSAIDs are; Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Celebrex, Meloxicam, Lodine, Feldene, Voltaren, Toradol, and many others.
Many NSAIDs can be bought over the counter but this doesn’t mean they don’t come without risk or side effects. The most serious of these side effects of NSAIDs are increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction, and stroke, all which can be fatal. Now these side effects, although considered rare, are still documented, so it’s important to be aware of them. Other side effects include hypertension, fluid retention, edema, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal ulcers/bleeds/perforation, and renal (kidney) toxicity. Now after any patient reads the risks and side effects of any medication they don’t want to continue taking it. Although these risks and side effects are sometimes rare, they are important to know, and be aware of. Education is power and if you know how your medication works, what the risks are, you can treat your pain more effectively and safely.
If you have questions about whether NSAIDs are right for you, come see us at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute. Whether you’re going to take OTC medications or prescription strength meds, we can help determine if you’re a good candidate for that medication. We aim for max pain reduction with minimum exposure to risk and side effects. Get your pain under control by visiting us at Prairie Spine & Pain Institute.
About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.