Safety and NSAIDs

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are very helpful in relieving joint pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis (OA) and many other forms of arthritis. They are the most widely used type of medication to treat arthritis.

Side Effects

Two important side effects of NSAIDs are related to the gastrointestinal (GI) and cardiovascular (CV) systems.

The risk of experiencing these serious side effects is relatively low, especially when compared to the risk of side effects caused by well-known risk factors such as smoking.

Since NSAIDs do increase risk a little bit, it is important to think of other things that also increase risk, because risk factors can add up.

We recommend talking to your doctor about the risk of taking NSAIDs if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are older than 75
  • You have had GI bleeding before
  • You are taking multiple NSAIDs (including low-dose Aspirin)
  • You are taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin)


Watch rheumatologist Dr. Andy Thompson discuss the treatment of arthritis with NSAIDs, and the risk of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects.

Companion Document

We have created a companion document for this article and video for you to download:

NSAIDs and OA – Putting Risks into Perspective