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NSAIDs

See also Steroid Injections/Corticosteroids

NSAID is an acronym for “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.” This type of medication can decrease pain and inflammation. NSAIDs have long been used to treat various kinds of arthritis and other painful conditions. Common, over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).

There are two enzymes (body chemicals) that these medications can block:

  • COX-1 protects the stomach from ulcers
  • COX-2 is a protein that, among other things, causes joint inflammation

COX-2 inhibitors are NSAIDs designed to focus on the blocking ("inhibiting") the COX-2 enzyme. These drugs are called “selective inhibitors” because they only block the COX-2 protein and not COX-1.

Both selective and nonselective NSAIDs can help with pain and inflammation, but side effects such as stomach upset or ankle swelling can be problems, and cardiovascular side effects have been described.

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