Using NSAIDs to Relieve Chronic Pain

Using NSAIDs to Relieve Chronic Pain

Published: August 6, 2020

Inflammation is a contributing factor to neck and back conditions, so reducing that inflammation can be key in managing your pain. It can amplify pain, but inflammation is the body’s self-defense mechanism after sustaining an injury or irritation. Instead of resorting to opioids or strong pain medications, many physicians will recommend taking NSAIDs to relieve aches and pains. 

What are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs – are used to treat a variety of symptoms, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. They are non-opioid medications that are sold over-the-counter at a fraction of the cost of prescribed pain medications. 

NSAIDs are a large classification of drugs that work by preventing the body’s production of an enzyme called cyclooxgenase (COX) from making a specific chemical, prostaglandins.  Prostaglandins are one of the biggest triggers of inflammation, fever, and pain.  This chemical has other effects on the body, such as maintaining the lining of the stomach and intestines, promoting blood clotting, and helping the kidneys function properly.  Taking NSAIDs for a long period of time can have a negative effect on the body, if not under the supervision of a doctor. 

Why Are They Used

NSAIDs are used for a variety of symptoms such as inflammation and aches caused by conditions like arthritis and muscle stiffness. They treat a wide range of conditions from acute headaches to chronic pain from osteoarthritis. 

Other conditions that can be managed by NSAIDs are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Muscle aches
  • Backaches
  • Pain caused by Gout
  • Bursitis
  • Activity-related pain
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Post-Surgical pain

Common Types 

Everyone responds to NSAIDs differently, although they work similarly. Each has its own strength and dosing instructions on how often to take it. Many NSAIDs are inexpensive and easy to find at local drugstores. If you don’t experience relief from one option, you can speak with your doctor about switching to another. 

There are many options of over-the-counter NSAIDs. The four most common types used to treat pain are:

  • Aspirin: (Bayer, Ecotrin) In addition to treating pain, fevers, and inflammation, Aspirin may also reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Ibuprofen: (Advil, Motrin) Ibuprofen treats a range of pain – from post-surgical to headaches. Stronger dosages are available for prescription. 
  • Naproxen: (Aleve) Naproxen is typically used to treat back pain.
  • Celecoxib: (Celebrex) Celecoxib is commonly used to treat arthritis pain. 


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