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Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

The other day I was speaking with a patient during her office visit. During that visit the patient stated that Advil just wasn’t taking care of her pain any more. I then proceeded to ask how many she was taking and she said “six”. I then clarified, 600mg, she said “no 6 pills at a time up to 4 times a day. I couldn’t believe she had not had any severe side effects, and immediately instructed her to stop her Advil routine.

Advil belongs to a group of pain relievers called Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs aka “NSAID”. NSAIDs have been around for a very long time, they are very good for arthritic inflammatory pain. They come in many names, the most common are Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Mobic, Naprosyn to name a few. As with any medication there are side effects. The most common side effect is stomach upset, gastric ulcers, and changes in hearing. These complications can be serious or even fatal if the recommended dose is exceeded. NSAIDs also have an effect on blood clotting, making bleeding easier and more prolonged if injured.

I often instruct patient’s to take NSAIDs as directed by my prescription, or as instructed by their primary care physician. Many times back pain is limited; time, rest, along with NSAIDs will go a long way to providing back pain relief. If you find that you have been taking a NSAID for chronic back pain or any pain for longer than 2 weeks, or more than 4 times a day for 1 week you should contact your PCP or spinal surgeon for an examination.

Remember that pain is not a bad thing sometimes. It is our body’s communication to the brain that it is not functioning at full capacity, and needs attention. When you give your body part that attention check with your PCP or spine surgeon first if NSAIDs are right for you.

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