Potential risks and complications of NSAIDS

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a type of medication that can potentially be effective at reducing inflammation and relieving associated pain. This type of medication is widely available and may be purchased over the counter or obtained via prescription, depending on the dosage. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, are also commonly prescribed to relieve arthritic pain, neck or back pain and fever. However, there are a number of potential risks and complications of NSAIDs that need to be understood before beginning treatment.

When NSAIDs should be avoided

NSAIDs should be taken only at the direction of a physician if you have significant risk factors for heart disease. Recent studies suggest that people with significant cardiovascular disease risk factors and who take ibuprofen are at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke than those who do not regularly take NSAIDs. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include high cholesterol/triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of premature (younger than 60) cardiovascular disease, poor physical conditioning, advanced age and others. Persons with kidney disease should also not take NSAIDs without specific instruction from their physician to do so.

NSAIDs have also been linked to gastrointestinal problems and bleeding ulcers in the stomach. These drugs reduce inflammation by targeting the actions of two cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) in the body. The COX-1 enzyme is involved in the production of a prostaglandin that regulates production of mucous protecting the stomach lining. Inhibiting this enzyme can lead to upset stomach symptoms, GI tract infections and bleeding peptic ulcers. Additionally, NSAIDs interfere with production of prostaglandins that regulate kidney blood flow in a way that may be harmful to persons with kidney disease.

Potential side effects

As with most medications, NSAIDs have other potential side effects, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Headache

NSAIDs can be an excellent way to treat inflammation and pain associated with arthritis of the spine, disc inflammation/pain and other degenerative spine conditions. However, it is extremely important that patients consult their doctor before beginning treatment to ensure safe and proper use of this or any other form of medication.

Laser Spine Institute

For patients dealing with spine conditions like arthritis or a herniated disc, NSAIDs can be an important part of a conservative treatment plan when used as recommended by a doctor. Other effective options include physical therapy, therapeutic massage, hot/cold compression and lifestyle changes like better diet, regular exercise and improving posture. To learn more about the full range of treatment options available for spine conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief since 2005.

We’re happy to offer a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.