Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are medications used to treat different types of pain and arthritis.

Types of NSAIDs

There are over 20 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs available today for arthritis, including: ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen(Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren, Arthrotec), indomethacin (Indocid), ketorolac (Toradol), meloxicam (Mobicox), nabumetone (Relafen), piroxicam (Feldene), tiaprofenic acid (Surgam), and sulindac (Clinoril).

COXIBs are a chemical class of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug that have been developed to reduce the risk of certain rare but serious side effects like gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding. Celecoxib (Celebrex) is a COXIB.

Some NSAIDs like ibuprofin (Motrin, Advil) can be bought at any pharmacy “over the counter”, but most are only available with a prescription from a doctor.

Taking NSAIDs

Each NSAID is taken differently. Doctors and pharmacists will tell patients how to take their medication. Depending on the type and dosage, NSAIDs are usually taken once to four times a day.

Some patients notice the effects of NSAIDs within the first few hours after taking a dose. In other patients, the effects may not be evident for a few days, or even up to a week or two. If an NSAID hasn’t helped after 2 weeks then it is unlikely that it will be of much benefit to a patient.

Since there are many choices of NSAIDs, if one doesn’t work for a particular patient, it is usually the case that their doctor can give them another one to try.

Important Tests and Risks

NSAIDs are not recommended for patients that have an allergy to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) or to other NSAIDs.

NSAIDs should not be taken with other NSAIDs because it can increase the risk of stomach problems. Patients should be careful and talk to their doctor when taking NSAIDs with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin).

Before starting an NSAID, patients should make sure their doctor knows if they have high blood pressure, or if their medical history includes heart disease, gastrointestinal ulcers and bleeding, or kidney problems.




Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce NSAIDs in this short video:


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) Quick Reference Guide