Types of NSAIDs — nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are an often-used method for reducing inflammation, pain and swelling throughout the body. Specifically, NSAIDs block two forms of enzymes in the body, COX-1 and COX-2, which are responsible for inflammation. Therefore, NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory medications because they prevent these COX enzymes from developing inflammation in an injury or damaged area of the body.

There are two types of NSAIDs currently in use in the United States: those that inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes and those that inhibit only COX-2 enzymes. This difference is important because inhibition of the COX-1 enzyme is associated with many of the undesirable side effects of NSAIDs. The NSAIDs that inhibit only the COX-2 enzyme are currently available only by prescription. All over-the-counter NSAIDs inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes.

Naproxen, a COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor

Naproxen, known by brand names such as Aleve and Naprosyn, is available both over-the-counter and in prescription-strength forms. If you are experiencing back pain, naproxen is often effective in reducing pain and inflammation. It works by inhibiting the inflammatory process. However, naproxen can cause blood clotting because it interferes with the platelet activity that allows the blood to clot. It can also cause an upset stomach by interfering with the production of protective mucous. Both of these undesirable side effects are caused through COX-1 inhibition.

Ibuprofen, a COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitor

Ibuprofen, brand name Motrin, is another of the most common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is one of the most commonly recommended NSAIDs for people with neck and back pain, stiffness, inflammation and tenderness. Like aspirin and naproxen, ibuprofen can cause stomach symptoms through reduction in mucous production, a COX-1 activity. This symptom can be somewhat relieved by taking food with the medication because food substitutes for lost mucous. Ibuprofen is effective in treating pain from daily activities, muscle strains or damage to tendons and ligaments.

COX-2 inhibitors

Celebrex (Celecoxib), Vioxx (Rofecoxib), Bextra (Valdecoxib), Arcoxia (Etoricoxib), Prexige (Lumiracoxib) and Dynastat (Parecoxib) are Cox-2 type NSAIDs. Only Celebrex is currently approved for use in the United States. Like other NSAIDs, Celebrex reduces inflammation by inhibiting the inflammatory process in connective tissue. However, unlike other NSAIDs, it does not cause the same type of stomach-related side effects, nor does it cause significant blood thinning. There are many studies being done on this type of NSAID relating to cardiovascular side effects.

Learn more about neck or back pain treatment

You should always speak with your doctor before taking any new medications.

While often effective for the relief of neck or back pain related to a spine condition, especially when combined with other treatments such as physical therapy, NSAIDs don’t work for everyone. If you are considering spine surgery after exhausting conservative treatment options, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat problems related to degenerative spine conditions such as facet disease, bone spurs and herniated or bulging discs.

Get in touch with us today and we will be glad to give you information about our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures designed to address the underlying cause of your symptoms. We’ll happily provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.