Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — are among the most common pain relief medicines in the world. Every day more than 30 million Americans use them to soothe headaches, sprains, arthritissymptoms, and other daily discomforts, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. And as if that wasn’t enough, in addition to dulling pain NSAIDs also lower fever and reduce swelling.
But how do those little pills do so much? And if they’re so good in some ways, why do they also raise the risk of heart problems in some people? The answer is complicated. Even researchers don’t fully understand how NSAIDs work.
Nonetheless, with the benefits and risks of NSAIDs in the headlines frequently, WebMD turned to four experts for a rundown of what researchers do know. Our panel consisted of:
- Byron Cryer, MD, a spokesman for the American Gastroenterological Association and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
- Nieca Goldberg, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York.
- John Klippel, MD, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta.
- Scott Zashin, MD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and author of Arthritis Without Pain.
The following list is an example of NSAIDs available:
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam,Voltaren-XR, Zipsor, Zorvolex)
- diflunisal (Dolobid – discontinued brand)
- etodolac (Lodine – discontinued brand)
- ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- indomethacin (Indocin)
- ketoprofen (Active-Ketoprofen [Orudis – discontinued brand])
- ketorolac (Toradol – discontinued brand)
- nabumetone (Relafen – discontinued brand)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- oxaprozin (Daypro)
- piroxicam (Feldene)
- salsalate (Disalsate [Amigesic – discontinued brand])
- sulindac (Clinoril – discontinued brand)
- tolmetin (Tolectin – discontinued brand)