Healthcare Providers are asked on a regular basis if they recommend the use of many different non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) products. The answer is quite simple, moderation and proper use is always the
key. It is unfortunate that we have become a society that reaches for a bottle of aspirin or some other chemical
solution before seeking safer alternatives to their maladies such as lifestyle modification, supplementation,
therapy and or chiropractic.
When individuals suffer from tremendous pain and have difficulty performing basic tasks like driving, cleaning the
house and putting on their clothes; it is not hard to see why they seek a quick chemical solution for their physical
problems. The danger is that the pain associated with just getting through the day often leads people to abuse,
overuse, and become dependent on these drugs.
This misuse stems from the fact that people suffering from arthritic and joint pain do not realize there are safer
and more natural alternatives that may help them relieve this pain. Their aches and pains are unbearable during
the colder months when the most mundane things such as standing up, sitting down, and climbing up the stairs
are very difficult to do. Although these medications provide temporary relief from pain, they can actually cause
more harm than good.
The following page is meant to be educational in nature and is in no way meant to treat or diagnose any condition. If you have
questions after reading this information, consult with your medical doctor to make sure NSAID use is right for you and/or your
If you want to learn more about the benefits and dangers caused by NSAIDs, please read on.
To get to the point, NSAID use is very high. Everyday more than 36 million people take over-the-counter and
prescription NSAIDs for pain relief, headaches and arthritis, with nearly 25 percent exceeding the recommended
dosage, according to a study supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. Each year, the side
effects of long-term NSAID use cause nearly 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths by some estimates.
According to an article released by the Science Daily in 2005, the mortality rate from NSAID complications is
higher than that of serious diseases like cervical cancer and AIDS.
Many patients who use NSAIDs to treat and ease pain from arthritis find it ironic that these drugs actually can
cause arthritis to become more severe. According to Dr. James Braly, an allergy specialist in Florida, NSAIDs can
accelerate the deterioration of the joints. Thus, prolonged use of ibuprofen, naproxen, and other NSAIDs can turn
your ordinary case of arthritis into a more complicated one.
As the directions on most bottles of such products clearly warn, NSAIDs are available over the counter for only
one purpose: to be used for ten days or less for temporary relief. While long-term use occasionally may be
justified under strict medical supervision, many people self-medicate with NSAIDs for extended periods.
It is quite probable that you have at least one friend, co-worker or relative who has been taking NSAIDs on a
weekly (or even a daily) basis for months or even worse years at a time. The most likely reason for this risky
overuse is for relief from back pain, neck pain or headaches.
The main benefit recognized early on for aspirin was pain relief and the reduction in fever. Other important health
benefits from aspirin have also come to be recognized. One of the more important of these is the use of aspirin in
helping to prevent heart attack and perhaps stoke. This preventive benefit comes from aspirin’s role as a platelet
inhibitor in the blood stream. Studies have shown that these benefits can be obtained with a relatively small daily
dose of aspirin. NSAIDS were found to have an additional benefit of reducing inflammation, and so it helped
alleviate not just the symptom of pain, but also reduced the actual cause of the pain, for example, reducing joint
inflammation in arthritis.
Adverse side effects can potentially accompany the benefits in a portion of patients taking any medication. No
drugs escape the need for this kind of risk-benefit evaluation. It has become necessary to balance the benefits of
analgesia, platelet inhibition, and anti-inflammatory effect from NSAIDs and aspirin against potential adverse
effects on the stomach and digestive system. For patients who are dependent on regular use of pain relievers,
this can mean determining whether there are alternate ways to achieve pain relief, without risking ulcers or GI
bleeding which may accompany regular use of aspirin and NSAIDs. It all becomes a question in the end of is the
risk worth the reward?
In this regard, aspirin and NSAIDs have been found to cause damage to the lining (or mucosa) of the digestive
tract primarily in the stomach and upper intestine. This damage can result in an ulcer or intestinal bleeding.
Although this can happen to an individual who is not a frequent user of aspirin or NSAIDs, it is of a much greater
concern in frequent long term users, and those consuming higher dosages of these medications.
Adverse side effects associated with NSAIDs become more likely as the cumulative amount of NSAID increases
over time, relating both to the size of each dose you take, as well as how frequently–how many times a day, how
many days a week–you consume NSAIDs. The most important ground rule is to always follow the instructions on
your medication. No medication–whether a prescription or over-the-counter drug–should be taken more
frequently than is directed in the labeling.
Given the damage wrought by the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it is astounding how large an
audience they have captured. Documented side effects to the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, central nervous
system, endocrine system, and articular cartilage should strike a note of warning across the bow to all. Yet,
NSAIDs are the most frequently prescribed medications worldwide.
We know that all drugs carry some risk of side effects, but how serious the side effects are is still unknown. This
needs to be taken into consideration when deciding to use pharmaceuticals, either over the counter or by
prescription. Again this information is for educational purposes and is in no way meant to treat or diagnose any
condition. You should always consult with your medical doctor when making the decisions to utilize NSAIDs.