What are anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
NSAID stands for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. These are medicines are used to treat pain and inflammation (soreness).
Some NSAIDS are over-the-counter, such as:
- ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- naproxen (Aleve)
Many more NSAIDS are prescription, such as:
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren)
- Indomethacin (Indocin)
There are also steroid anti-inflammatory medicines such as prednisone and cortisone, which are used for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, or Crohn’s disease.
Which Anti-Inflammatory Medicine (NSAID) is Stronger
Very often a patient will come into the office saying something like, “My doctor prescribed me a really strong medication. It’s 500 milligrams.” Believe it or not, that doesn’t really tell you which medicine is stronger. Sometimes a medicine with less milligrams is much stronger than a medicine with higher milligrams.
If you are comparing apples-to-apples, such as ibuprofen to ibuprofen, ibuprofen 600 mg. is stronger than ibuprofen 400 mg.
But if you are comparing two different medications, that isn’t always the case.
Indomethacin is a much stronger anti-inflammatory medication than ibuprofen. So, 50 mg. of indomethacin is much stronger than 600 mg. of ibuprofen.
People judge the strength of NSAIDS by:
- how fast they start working
- how long they work
- how much pain they relieve
but not usually how good they reduce inflammation.
Since NSAIDs take a long time to reduce inflammation, usually two weeks or more to even start working, people may not even realize the medicine they are taking is strong.
So, which NSAID is strongest? Honestly, the one that works best for you.
- If you have a sensitive stomach, an NSAID that is easier on the stomach or applied topically would work better for you.
- If you are in a lot of pain, an NSAID that you take more often might give you more relief spread out throughout the day.
- If you have an inflamed tendon or ligament, take the medication exactly as prescribed over a period of at least two to four weeks.
Not all NSAIDs are good for inflammation
Some NSAIDs are extremely good at relieving pain, but not that good at reducing inflammation.
One example of this is ketorolac (Toradol). This medicine is so good at relieving pain that it works as good as some narcotic pain relievers, without any grogginess. But ketorolac can’t be taken for more than a few days without serious side effects, so it is great for pain but not good for inflammation.
Why Most NSAIDS are still Prescription
NSAIDs, if taken improperly, can still cause some serious damage to your body – even over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
Anti-inflammatory medicines have the potential to cause the following rare but serious side effects:
- Bleeding problems
- Stomach problems such as ulcers
- Kidney problems
- High blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Problems with hearing, such as ringing in the ears
Because of these side effects, doctors want to prescribe the medication that will treat your problem effectively with the least amount of side effects. The strongest anti-inflammatory medicine may not always be the best one for you.
The best advice is to see your doctor first to make sure an anti-inflammatory medication is the right treatment for you.
If you are having pain or swelling in your feet, give our office a call at (845) 298-9074, so we can try to get to the bottom of your discomfort. We now have Tuesday and Thursday evening and Saturday morning appointments available for your convenience.
Hollowbrook Foot Specialists – serving the Hudson Valley from Wappingers Falls.
By David Schlam