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NSAIDs are commonly used all over the world for mild to moderate pain control associated with inflammation. In fact, estimates show about 15% of the population takes NSAIDs whether prescription or over the counter. There are over 20 different types of NSAIDs some of which include: Motrin, Advil, Celebrex, Cataflam, and Voltaren. If you are part of the 15% of the population regularly taking these medications for your aches and pains (not prescribed by your doctor), you may want to consider other pain control options.

Back in 2005, the FDA became aware through several studies, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen can increase the risk of not only gastrointestinal bleeding but increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke. In 2015, further action was taken to change labeling to further warn about the potential risks.

Countless studies have shown increased risks of heart attack and stroke even with short-term use of NSAIDs. “Preceding 14 days, NSAIDs found to be associated with a 19% increased risk of hospitalization for heart failure.” Risks are increased with long term use, high dosages, and previous history of cardiovascular disease. However, effects were also seen in those without any existing heart conditions.

NSAIDs are effective at reducing inflammation secondary to dropping prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are a hormone-like substance which functions to control blood pressure, opening, and closing of blood vessels, and control of inflammation. Because of this and other physiological means, these drugs can increase blood clotting, increased vascular tone, and increase sodium and water retention. One study found that NSAID use can increase BP by as much as 5 mmHg.

What can you do? Firstly, if these medications are prescribed to you, consult with your physician if you are concerned. If not, the FDA recommends taking the least possible dose for a short period of time. If you find yourself taking OTC pain relievers, consider scheduling a physical therapy appointment so we can help you take control of your pain without medication.