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Friday, June 5, 2009

NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Pain Medications

Friday, June 5, 2009
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications, commonly referred to as NSAIDs (pronounced en-sayds), are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, especially for patients with orthopedic problems such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. These medications are available over-the-counter (e.g. Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve) or as a prescription (e.g. Celebrex, DayPro, Relafen). NSAIDs are effective at pain relief (analgesia), and to reduce swelling (anti-inflammatory).

How do NSAIDs work?
Medications that work to reduce inflammation come in two major categories:

* Steroids (e.g. Cortisone)

* Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs)

Steroid drugs are a derivative of a natural hormone produced by the body. These medications can be given orally, systemically, or as a localized injections, as is commonly used in orthopedics.

NSAIDs work to block the effect of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This enzyme is critical in your body's production of prostaglandins. It is prostaglandins that cause swelling and pain in a condition such as arthritis or bursitis. Therefore by interfering with cyclooxygenase, you decrease the production of prostaglandins, and decrease pain and swelling associated with these conditions.

Simple, right?

Well, there's more to it. Prostaglandins also have other important functions in the body. One type of prostaglandin (there are many varieties) helps line the stomach with a protective fluid (called gastric mucosa). When the production of this protective fluid is diminished, some people are at risk for developing stomach ulcers.