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How to Use Anti-Inflammatories

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are used to relieve pain from arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, sprains and other conditions associated with inflammation. Inflammation occurs when tissue in specific parts of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, resulting from overuse or injury. The goal of NSAID therapy is to decrease inflammation and help alleviate pain.  A 7-to-21 day course of NSAID therapy is recommended when symptoms of inflammation develop – a common occurrence with various orthopaedic conditions. Taking NSAIDs for 1-to-3 weeks helps alleviate inflammation and minimizes the risk of unwanted side effects

Recommended Dosage for Common NSAIDs:

While it is important to consult with your individual physician to determine the right dosage for your specific need, following are general guidelines

  • Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil, Nuprin) 200mg tablets; take 3 tablets (600mg total) three times daily.
  • Naproxen (e.g., Naprosyn, Aleve) 220mg tablets; take 2 tablets (440mg total) two times daily.
  • Prescription NSAIDs (e.g., Piroxicam, Meloxicam, Indomethacin) – use as directed on label.

Proper Use of NSAIDs:

  • Always take these medications with food and a full glass of water to minimize stomach irritation.
  • NSAIDs need to be taken regularly for at least 5-10 days before they become effective. The drug must first be absorbed by the body, and then must act chemically on the involved tissue to decrease inflammation before there is any decrease in pain.
  • Each NSAID differs slightly in its chemical structure and therefore may work better in certain patients. You may need to try a few different NSAIDs to find one that works most effectively for you.

Precautions While Using these Medications:

  • Do not take more than one anti-inflammatory at a time.
  • NSAIDs can cause thinning of the blood or easy bleeding. If you take aspirin, Coumadin, Plavix, or other blood-thinners for your heart or for other reasons, check with your medical doctor or cardiologist prior to taking NSAIDS.
  • If you have liver or kidney disease, check with your medical doctor or specialist prior to taking NSAIDs.
  • Check with your pharmacist or medical doctor regarding potential interactions between NSAIDs and your current medicines.
  • Most common side effects include gastrointestinal distress (nausea or vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea), heartburn or reflux symptoms, intestinal bleeding, dizziness, drowsiness and generalized body aches.
  • With long-term use, NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you develop symptoms of any unwanted side effects while taking NSAIDs, stop taking these medications.


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