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NSAID and Back Pain

NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly taken for back pain. They are fairly cheap, very accessible to buy; also very safe if used correctly and come in several strengths and forms.

Unlike narcotics, NSAIDs are non-addictive; they do not interfere with respiratory function and do not bring on a sedative effect. As the name suggests they do not contain any steroidal agents and the most common forms of NSAID are aspirin and ibuprofen.

Paracetamol is often grouped in this group but is not seen by everyone as a true NSAID as its anti-inflammatory properties are low.

NSAIDs are very helpful in reducing swelling, inflammation, pain and temperature. They work by messing with the chemical chains of reaction within the body.

Indications for Use

NSAIDs are very commonly used in both acute and chronic pain, though using it over a long period is not recommended due to the risk of gastric irritancies.
Most back pain comes with, or is due to, inflammation; these drugs can be taken simply for their anti-inflammatory effects.

Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, period pain, headache, metastatic bone pain, post-operative pain, ankylosing spondylitis and fever can be helped by the use of NSAIDs.

Aspirin is also commonly used in the treatment of some blood disorders as it helps to stop blood thickening and clotting. Ibuprofen is mostly effective is the treatment of lower back pain and ligament, muscle and tendon pain in the cervical spine region.

Precautions for Use

Most users of NSAIDs should take the lowest dose and for the shortest time to lessen the risk of any side-effects, though NSAIDs should be taken on regular intervals, as directed, in order to feel the maximum anti-inflammatory benefits. You should not take NSAIDs for more than three weeks.

NSAIDs are not recommended to be taken during pregnancy, except with the exception of paracetamol and aspirin which may be taken under medical care.
As these drugs are metabolised in the liver and taken out through the kidneys, medical advice should be sought after if you have any liver or kidney diseases and disorders.

If other medications are being taken for blood or cardiovascular conditions then aspirin should be taken with care. As many other medicines, such as cold and flu remedies contain paracetamol, which is why it is important to read all labels carefully and take medication as directed to avoid an unintended overdose.

In the event of an overdose, even if it’s only a minor one, you should seek medical advice, as liver impairment can occur. Reported side-effects, particularly of prolonged use of NSAIDs, include heartburn, stomach upsets and nausea. To try and avoid these happening, take medications with food and plenty of water.

Although it is rare, if there are any signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face or airway or trouble breathing, seek medical attention straight away and where it is possible, take the container of the drug with you to the hospital.

The risk of taking non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is small and they are relatively safe for most people. They are effective at both reducing swelling and as an analgesic. They can be bought without prescription but should not be taken for over a lengthy period. You should always read the label and follow directions carefully.

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