December 14th, 2020


Pain Science

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Anti-inflammatory drugs

These can be called NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). They include ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, meloxicam, indomethacin, piroxicam, etoricoxib.

About NSAIDs

NSAIDs are used to treat pain from an injury or surgery. NSAIDs can also be used in long term painful conditions, such as osteoarthritis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis. Taking NSAIDs may mean that you can reduce stronger pain medicines, which leads to fewer side effects.

When you feel pain and stiffness, your body is making chemicals (prostaglandins) which ‘tell’ you it hurts. NSAIDs reduce the amount of these prostaglandins and therefore reduces your pain but they may not alter the progress of the disease.

When should I take it?

NSAIDs can be taken regularly or as needed if the pain is not constant. NSAIDs should ideally be taken with or shortly after food.

How long will it take to work?

Everyone is different. The average time for pain to reduce is an hour after taking a tablet or suppository, however it may take longer for the full effect. NSAIDs as a gel or cream can vary in the time it takes to give pain relief.

NSAIDs do not work for everyone. If there is no improvement in your pain you should consult your prescriber, GP or Pain Medicine Consultant.

What are the possible side effects?

Most side effects are mild and include heartburn, indigestion or pains in your stomach, and feeling sick (nausea)or being sick (vomiting). If these side effects are frequent and severe, you should stop taking the medicine and consult your prescriber or pharmacist.

If you vomit any blood or dark particles that look like coffee grounds or have blood stained faeces (stools/motions) : You should stop taking the medicine immediately and seek medical advice.

Less common side effects include headache, dizziness, swollen feet or legs, and weight gain. Again

if these side effects are constant and severe discuss with your prescriber or pharmacist. Other less common side effects include a rash or itching, or unexplained wheezing or shortness of breath. If you have any of these side effects, you should discuss them with your prescriber or pharmacist.

Recent evidence suggests that even short term NSAID use may be linked to a very small increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. However, your risk of having a stroke or a heart attack whilst taking NSAIDs is thought to remain very low. The risk of this increases with dose and duration of treatment and the risk is greater for those who already have heart disease.

Use of NSAIDs, even for a short period of time, can harm the kidneys. This is especially true in people with underlying kidney disease.

Side effects are usually related to the dose of medicine you take, but some people are more sensitive than others. They are less likely if you can take the smallest dose that you find reduces your pain.

* This information is not intended to replace your doctor’s advice. We advise you to read the manufacturer’s information for patients, which will be supplied by your pharmacist when your medicine is dispensed.

** Source: Faculty of Pain Medicine: Patient information leaflets, British National Formulary