NSAIDs — Friend or Foe?

You’re in pain, so you reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. While these medications may provide temporary pain relief, the side effects that come along for the ride may not be worth the risk. 

Each year, over one million people end up in the emergency room in the United States alone due to adverse drug events (ADEs), as well as injuries or illness resulting from medication. Many of these preventable illnesses and injuries are due to OTC pain relievers. In fact, the American Gastroenterological Association reports that almost 17,000 deaths in the US occur annually due to the side effects of  OTC pain relievers. 

At Active Health Clinics in Fort Dodge, Iowa, we understand the frustration living with pain brings. We also know your health is the most important asset you have. That’s why our experienced providers offer holistic, regenerative medicine through customized treatment plans to ensure you reach your health goals and experience improved wellbeing overall. 

To help you better understand how common pain relievers work, we’ve put together this guide on NSAID medications. Read on to learn more!

What are NSAIDs and how do they work?

NSAIDs stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, medications that work by blocking prostaglandins, hormone-like substances at nerve endings that increase the sensation of pain when you experience inflammation. They also play an important role in regulating your body temperature. NSAIDs alleviate pain and reduce fever by blocking these prostaglandins.

What are the benefits of NSAIDs?

Although they can cause serious side effects, NSAIDs do have some benefits. Since they block the effects of chemicals that increase pain sensation, they can temporarily mitigate your body pain. They also help reduce swelling, which can also alleviate the sensation of pain. If you’re taking NSAIDs once in a while for the occasional headache or minor injury, the risk of having an adverse side effect is relatively low. 

What are the risks of NSAIDs?

The problem with NSAIDs is that they don’t only treat the area in which you’re experiencing pain or swelling. They enter the bloodstream and impact your entire body. When you have chronic pain, it’s easy to take multiple NSAIDs many times per day to try to keep up. 

The result? You experience an increased risk of negative side effects. Side effects associated with NSAIDs include:

It’s important to note that over-the-counter NSAIDs are intended for short-term, occasional use only — not chronic consumption. The longer you use NSAIDs, the greater your risk of developing side effects. 

What are alternative pain treatments to NSAIDs?

When pain doesn’t go away on its own, it’s time to seek professional treatment. At Active Health Clinics, we specialize in alleviating chronic pain by treating the underlying conditions that cause it. Our clinicians evaluate your history and symptoms to create a customized treatment plan for you. Our treatment services include:

Ready to end your chronic pain?

If you’re interested in exploring effective treatments for chronic pain that don’t involve taking NSAIDs, please call Active Health Clinics at 515-227-7491 or request an appointment online today!

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