Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, called NSAIDs, reduce pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness, which can improve your quality of life. People with severe joint symptoms may find better pain relief with NSAIDs as compared with analgesics. Your doctor may recommend or prescribe several types and doses before you find the one that is most effective for your symptoms. These are available over the counter in tablets, capsules, liquids, and suppositories.

How NSAIDs Work

NSAIDs block the production of chemicals in your body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are powerful substances that can produce pain and inflammation. By blocking the production of one type of prostaglandin, NSAIDs help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Possible Side Effects of NSAIDs

The ability of NSAIDs to cause you harm increases if you repeatedly take them over time. Long-term use has been associated with kidney failure, stomach ulcers and bleeding, and high blood pressure. Because NSAIDs block the action of a prostaglandin that lines and protects the stomach, tell your doctor if you have a history of stomach ulcers, bleeding, or kidney disease before using NSAIDs.

Bothersome Side Effects
  • appetite loss
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • cramping
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • heartburn
  • increased blood pressure
  • mouth irritation
  • nausea
  • rash
  • stomach upset and irritation
  • vomiting
Serious Side Effects
  • anaphylaxsis
  • stomach ulcers, with occasional bleeding
  • kidney failure
Possible Drug Interactions with NSAIDs

To help you avoid unnecessary side effects, don't take these with any other medications until you talk with your doctor. Tell your doctor about all other drugs you are taking - it's even a good idea to let your doctor see your other prescription containers. Not all drugs in the categories listed below will react with NSAIDs - your doctor is the best judge. Always check with your doctor to be sure.

Drugs to Avoid With NSAIDs
  • blood pressure medication
  • antacids
  • blood thinners
  • diet medications
  • heart medications
  • medication for rheumatism
  • nasal medications
  • other NSAIDs
  • seizure medications