NSAIDs pronounced as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are the most commonly prescribed drugs used to treat diseases such as arthritis. Most people are familiar with over-the-counter NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen. NSAIDs are more than just pain relievers. They also help reduce inflammation and lower fever. NSAIDs can increase the risk of nausea, stomach pain, or ulcers. They can also affect kidney function.
How do they work?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work by preventing enzymes (proteins that cause changes in the body) from doing their job. This enzyme is called cyclooxygenase or COX and has two forms. COX-1 protects the stomach lining from raw acids and digestive chemicals. It also helps maintain kidney function. COX-2 is produced when a joint is injured or inflamed.
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NSAIDs are widely used to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. NSAIDs are relatively inexpensive and are often the first-line drugs used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. People with heart disease can be prescribed very low doses of NSAIDs.
COX-2 inhibitors are more costly than prescribed NSAIDs. They are often prescribed for long-term conditions such as arthritis because they can be safer for the stomach. However, several studies have shown no difference between the incidence of gastrointestinal side effects of conventional NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors.
Recent studies have shown that NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors can have the effect of delaying bone healing, but the extent of this effect is unknown. Short-term use of NSAIDs after fractures or orthopedic surgery is usually safe.