Which Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medication Is Best?
Many patients are prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (often called NSAIDs) for a variety of common orthopedic conditions including arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis. These medications are particularly useful not only because they help decrease pain, but they also help control swelling and inflammation.However, as with any medication, there are both risks and benefits, and people should be careful before turning to a bottle to address their symptoms. While a medication can be a safe and effective treatment for these orthopedic conditions, there may be safe alternatives to a medication.Before beginning any medication, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor, and always be sure your primary physician is aware of any new medication you are taking, especially if you are taking it regularly.
Are Prescription NSAIDs Better?
NSAIDs are available both over-the-counter and as a prescription medication. It is very important to understand that while there are differences between prescription and non-prescription NSAIDs, this difference is not the potential relief of symptoms. Many patients find their best response from over-the-counter NSAIDs.There has been no study showing that newer NSAIDs (the so-called COX-2 inhibitors), prescription NSAIDs, or more expensive NSAIDs, treat pain or swelling any better than more traditional NSAID medications. Most of the research evaluating the effects of NSAIDs has been done using over-the-counter ibuprofen.
Which to Take?
Often patients will experience a different response in treatment with a different medication. This could be why some medications have helped your symptoms while others do not have a significant effect. This is not unusual, and it is difficult to predict which medications will most benefit a given individual. The best way to determine which NSAID is best for you is to try different options. Often a physician will recommend one NSAID, and if adequate relief of symptoms is not obtained within several weeks of treatment, another NSAID can be tried.One of the best reasons to consider some of the newer, prescription medications, such as Celebrex or Mobic, is that these may be taken as once-a-day doses rather than three or four times daily. In addition, the COX-2 inhibitors are thought to have fewer side-effects on the stomach.
Most Common NSAIDs
Names of medications to be confusing, and physicians and other healthcare professionals often use generic and brand names interchangeably. Here is a list of some of the most commonly prescribed NSAID medications:
- Aspirin (brand names include Bayer, Ecotrin, Bufferin)
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Meloxicam (Mobic)
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Indomethacin (Indocin)
How Else To Control Inflammation
Medications are not the only solution to control inflammation and discomfort. As we become increasingly aware and sensitive the possible side-effects of any medication, more patients and doctors alike are interested in non-pharmacologic methods to control inflammation. There are many ways that people address inflammation. Some have better scientific support than others, but most all are safe to trA good place to start is with R.I.C.E. treatment of inflammation, which stands for: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Other treatments which may be helpful include the foods and supplements you ingest, topical treatments to the painful area, and the activities we perform.The most often neglected method to control inflammation that I see in my patients is rest. Not only does this mean resting from athletics, but often this means allowing an injured body part to rest from normal activities which may prolong inflammation. We live busy lives that may not allow for rest, but ignoring the signs of inflammation may prolong the problem. Therefore, look for ways to rest your injured body part to allow the inflammation to subside and the recovery process to unfold.
Side Effects of NSAIDs
NSAID medications have potential side effects, even though many of these medications can be obtained over-the-counter. Some of the side effects are minor, other certainly worrisome. Some people may be more prone to side effects given other medical conditions. For that reason, NSAID medication should be used with caution. If there is ever a question of whether or not it is safe for you to take these medications, and you should discuss this with your doctor. Anyone taking NSAID medications for more than a few days should have a discussion with her physician about the potential for side effects.Some of the more common side effects of NSAID medications include:
Bleeding risk: Certain NSAID medications can cause an increased risk of bleeding. Most people can tolerate this, but people who have upcoming surgical procedures or are on other blood thinning medications may not be able to take NSAID medications.